On Krishna's chariot stands Shikhandi

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by parijataka, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    In view of SC ruling on Arcile 377 and the ruckus created by political parties with a view on their respective vote banks, an old blog post by Devadatta Patnaik on the tolerance of Hinduism towards non mainstream sexuality. A reminder to Hindutvawadis to not copy the intolerance of others but go with the dharmic way !

    On Krishna's chariot stands Shikhandi

    Published in Sunday Midday, Mumbai, 12 July 2009

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    It was the ninth night of the war at Kurukshetra. The exact midpoint of the legendary 18-day bloodbath. Not the start, not the end, but the middle. The war had been inconclusive. Sometimes the Kauravas led by the old sire Bhisma had the upper hand; sometimes the Pandavas led by the young warlord, Dhristadhyumna, Draupadi’s twin brother, had the upper hand. A see-saw that was going nowhere.

    “Bhisma loves us too much to defeat us,” said the Pandavas.

    “Yet not enough to let us win,” reminded Krishna. “He must die, if dharma has to be established.” But Bhisma had been given a boon by his father that he could choose the time of his death. No one could therefore kill him. “If we cannot kill him, we must at least immobilize him.”

    “But no one can defeat him,” said the Pandavas. “Even the great Parashurama could not overpower him in a duel. So long as he holds a weapon in his hand he is invincible.”

    “Then we must make him lower his bow,” said Krishna.

    “He will never lower his bow before any armed man.”

    “What about an armed woman?”

    “A woman? On the battlefield?” sneered the Pandavas, forgetting they themselves worshipped Durga, the goddess of war and victory. “But it is against dharma to let women hold weapons and step on the battlefield.”

    “Who said so?” asked Krishna.

    “Bhisma says so. Dharma says so.”

    “Dharma also says that old men should retire and make way for the next generation so that the earth’s resources are not exploited by too many generations. But Bhisma did the very opposite. He renounced his right to marry, so that his old father could resume the householder’s life,” argued Krishna.

    “He was being an obedient son.”

    “He was indulging his old father at the cost of the earth. That vow spiraled events that has led to this war. It is time to be rid of him, by force or cunning, if necessary. We must find someone before whom the old patriarch will lower his bow. If not a woman, then someone who is not quite a man.”

    “What about Shikhandi!” said Dhristadhyumna. “He is my elder brother. He was born a woman. But my father, Draupada, was told by the Rishis that he would one day become a man. Though born with female genital organs, Shikhandi was raised a son, taught warfare and statecraft. He was even given a wife. On his wedding night, the wife, daughter of king Hiranyavarna of Dasharna, was horrified to discover that her husband was actually a woman. My father tried to explain that actually Shikhandi was a man with a female body and that Rishis had told him he would someday acquire a male body. The woman refused to listen. She screamed and ran to her father and her father raised an army and threatened to destroy our city. A distraught Shikhandi went to the forest, holding himself responsible for the crisis, intent on killing himself. There he met a Yaksha called Sthunakarna who took pity on him and gave him his manhood for one night. With the Yaksha’s manhood, Shikhandi made love to a concubine sent by his father-in-law and proved he was no woman. The wife was therefore forced to return. Now, it so happened, that Kubera, king of the Yakshas, was furious with what Sthunakarna had done and so cursed Sthunakarna that he would not get his manhood back so long as Shikhandi was alive. As a result what was supposed to be with him for one night has remained with him till this moment. My elder brother, Shikhandi, born with a female body, has a Yaksha’s manhood right now. What is he, Krishna? Man or woman?”

    Krishna knew things were more complex. Shikhandi, may have been raised as a man and may have acquired a manhood later in life, but in his previous life, he was a woman called Amba, whose life Bhisma had ruined. Bhisma had abducted her along with her sisters and forced them to marry, not him, but his weakling of a brother, Vichitravirya (a name that means ‘queer masculinity’ or ‘odd manliness’). When she begged Bhisma to let her marry the man she loved, he let her go. But the lover refused to marry Amba, now soiled by contact with another man (Bhisma). Distraught she returned, only to have Vichitravirya turn her away, and Bhisma shrugging helplessly. “When you have taken the vow of never being with a woman, what gave you the right to abduct me,” she yelled. Bhisma ignored her. Amba begged Parashurama, the great warrior, to kill Bhisma but he failed. Exasperated, irritated, she prayed to Shiva. “Make me the cause of his death,” she begged. Shiva blessed her – it would be so, but only in her next life. Amba immediately leapt into a pyre eager to accelerate the process.

    “I think, Shikhandi should ride into the battlefield on my chariot. Let Arjuna stand behind him,” said Krishna. The tenth day dawned. The chariot rolled out. Behind Krishna stood the strange creature, neither man nor woman, or perhaps both, or neither, and behind him, Arjuna.

    “You bring a woman into this battlefield, before me,” roared Bhisma seeing Shikhandi. “This is adharma. I refuse to fight.”

    Krishna retorted in his calm melodious voice, “You see her as a woman because she was born with a female body. You see her as a woman because in her heart she is Amba. But I see her as a man because that is how her father raised her. I see her as a man because she has a Yaksha’s manhood with which he has consummated his marriage. Whose point of view is right, Bhisma?”

    “Mine,” said Bhisma.

    “You are always right, are you not, Bhisma? When you allowed your old father to remarry, when you abducted brides for your weak brother, when you clung to future generation after future generation like a leech, trying to set things right. There is always a logic you find to justify your point of view. So now, Shikhandi is a woman – an unworthy opponent. That’s your view, not Shikhandi’s view. He wishes to fight you.”

    “I will not fight this woman,” so saying Bhisma lowered his bow without even looking towards Shikhandi.

    “Shoot him now, Shikhandi. Shoot him, now, Arjuna,” said Krishna, “Shoot hundreds of arrows so that they puncture every inch of this old man’s flesh. Pin him to the ground, immobilize him so that he can no longer immobilize the war.”

    “But he is like a father to me,” argued Arjuna.

    “This war is not about fathers or sons. This is not even about men or women, Arjuna. This is about dharma. And dharma is about empathy. Empathy is about inclusion. Even now, he excludes Shikhandi’s feelings – all he cares about is his version of the law. Shoot him now. Rid the world of this old school of thought so that a new world can be reconstructed.”

    And so Arjuna released a volley of arrows. Hundreds of arrows punctured every limb of Bhisma’s body, his hands, his legs, his trunk, his thighs, till the grandsire fell like a giant Banyan tree in the middle of a forest. It is said that the earth would not accept him for he had lived too long – over four generations instead of just two. It is said the sky would not accept him because he had not fathered children and repaid his debt to ancestors. So he remained suspended mid-air by Arjuna’s arrows.

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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
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  3. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    contd.

    With the fall of Bhisma, the war moved in favor of the Pandavas. Nine days later, the Kauravas were defeated and dharma had been established.

    Without doubt, Shikhandi changed the course of the war and played a pivotal role in the establishing of dharma. He was without doubt a key tool for Krishna. A cynic would say, Shikhandi was used by Krishna. A devotee will argue, Krishna made even Shikhandi useful. But his story is almost always overlooked in retellings of the great epic Mahabharata, or retold rather hurriedly, avoiding the details. Authors have gone so far as to conveniently call the Sthunakarna episode a later interpolation, hence of no consequence.

    Shikhandi embodies all queer people – from gays to lesbians to Hijras to transgendered people to hermaphrodites to bisexuals. Like their stories, his story remains invisible. But the great author, Vyasa, located this story between the ninth night and the tenth day, right in the middle of the war, between the start and the finish. This was surely not accidental. It was a strategic pointer to things that belong neither here nor there. This is how the ancients gave voice to the non-heterosexual discourse.

    Shikhandi embarrases us today. Sthunakarna who willingly gave up his manhood frightens us today. But neither Shikhandi nor Shthunkarna embarrassed or frightened Krishna or Vyas. Both included Shikhandi in the great narrative. But modern writers have chosen to exclude him. That is the story of homosexuals in human society. Homosexuals have always existed in God’s world but more often than not manmade society has chosen to ignore, suppress, ridicule, label them aberrants, diseased, to be swept under carpets and gagged by laws such as 377. They have been equated with rapists and molesters, simply because they can only love differently.

    Indian society, however, has been a bit different from most others. Like all cultures, Indian culture for sure paid more importance to the dominant heterosexual discourse. But unlike most cultures, Indian culture did not condemn or invalidate the minority non-heterosexual discourse altogether. Hence the tale of Shikhandi, placed so strategically. Hence the tale of Bhangashvana, retold by none other than Bhisma to the Pandavas, after the war before he chose to die.

    Yudhishtira asked, “Grandfather, who gets more sexual pleasure – men or women? What is sweeter to the ear – the sound of father or mother?”

    Bhisma replied, “No one knows really. Except perhaps Bhangashvana, the only one who was both man and woman. Bhangashvana was a great king, with many wives and many sons. Indra cursed him to be a woman. So he lived as a woman, took a husband and bore him children. He was thus a man to his wife and a woman to his husband. He thus had two sets of children, one who called him ‘father’ and another who called him ‘mother’. He alone is qualified to answer your questions.” Such ideas will never find mention in most scriptures around the world. But they are part of our cultural inheritance.

    Clearly many keepers of culture have not heard the stories of Shikhandi, or Bhangashvana or of Yuvanashva, the king who accidentally became pregnant and delivered the great Mandhata, or of the two queens who made love to each other to produce a child without bones (bones being the contribution of sperm, according to mythology), or of Mohini, the female form of Vishnu, who enchanted even Shiva, the great hermit. Clearly they have chosen to ignore that every year, in Brahmotsavam festival, the image of the Lord Venkateshwara Balaji, who is Vishnu on earth, is dressed in female garments reminding us all of Mohini. Clearly they are oblivious of how Shrinathji in Nathdwara is lovingly bedecked with a sari, the stri-vesha or women’s attire, in memory of the time he wore Radha’s clothes to appease her. Clearly they are not aware of Gopeshwarji of Vrindavan, Shiva who took the form of a milkmaid so that he could dance the raas-leela with Krishna. And they certainly have turned a blind eye to the rooster-riding Bahucharji, of Gujarat, patron goddess of many Hijras.

    Western religions have, and will, look upon Hinduism’s cross-dressing gods as vulgar and perverted. The British mocked us so much during the Raj that we went into apology and denial. Now an entire generation does not even know about these tales and these deities and these rituals. Westernization did not change bedroom habits; it has led to an embarrassed denial of our sacred scriptures.

    One thing we must grant the homosexual – he has united the cantankerous right wing. He has done what the constitution of India could not do – bring the radical Islamic cleric, the saffron robed yogis, the Bible-bashing clergyman to the same side of the table. Together these self-proclaimed guardians of culture would like the homosexuals to be made invisible once more.

    Baba Ramdevji would for sure celebrate the celibacy of Bhisma. If he would have his way, he would, perhaps, drag Shikhandi to the mental asylum and teach him breathing exercises until the Yaksha’s appendage drops and he/she chokes and gasps into heterosexuality. But not Krishna. On Krishna’s chariot, Shikhandi – as he/she is – will always be welcomed.
     
  4. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Disgusting the person who wrote this should choke on his sh1t
     
  5. Eesh

    Eesh Regular Member

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    A disgusting thread. Needs to be locked.
     
  6. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    What is disgusting in it, the author has used just some references of mythology to substantiate his point fo view . We may agree or not , it is up to our discretion.

    Everbody has right to have his say.

    Though Same sex people may be accident of mothor Nature but these people our also part of our society better we treat them by providing their rights respectfully. Applying medieval thinking for the solution may not help.
     
  7. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yikes... Hinduism had a much more nuanced world view in the past - Western influence much I think !
     
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  8. Free Karma

    Free Karma Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ah I remember reading this article a week ago, the author is the same guy in charge of story for the MahaBhartham serial on T.V now right? Nice one.
     
  9. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Bondus can make religious texts look ugly but can not control their dick habits.

    Arjuna was 'jitendriya' who conquered his senses, he won over his sleep, practiced archery when rest of the students were sleeping at night, for many years. He was friend of Yogeshwara Krishna, whose message to all the humanity was how to become a yogi to serve the humanity.

    But look just to be pounded by a dick in across dentate line these ultra fun lovers are ready to twist any sacred reference for their immoral indulgences.
     
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  10. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    The posts in this thread do a good job of representing the extreme confusion of modern Hindus.

    You have self-proclaimed "Hindu nationalists" denouncing their own "Hindu" culture as "disgusting". :rofl:
     
  11. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well I am a 'Hindu nationalist` denouncing the narrow minded Abrahaimics...
     
  12. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    And your fellow "Hindu nationalists" on this same thread are calling their own culture as "disgusting".

    Do you also denounce your fellow "Hindu nationalists"? Whose view is correct?

    If you are honest, you would admit that most "Hindu nationalists" have negative views of homosexuality and view it as just another sign of Western decadence. Do you admit that most "Hindu nationalists" hold views that are influenced by Abrahamic religions (as I have argued numerous times)?
     
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  13. sydsnyper

    sydsnyper Senior Member Senior Member

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    Our dear elite athiest intelligent friend...if religious morals are to be thus denounced, why then should we even have morals in this country. Lets just all do what we please. And while we are at that, lets legalize extra marital affairs, child pornography, child employment, in fact ban marriages completely and bring back slavery......

     
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  14. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Am I right in assuming that you are one of these confused "Hindu nationalists" that I mentioned in my post?

    What you presented right now is called a non-sequitur. The topic of this thread is about homosexuality and transgender people, and how "Hindus" view them. I don't know where you got child pornography from, though it should be mentioned that religious people have a surprising tendency to engage in paedophilia despite religious sanctions against it.
     
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  15. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Precisely. The people who are holier-than-thou in defence of Hinduism have got their ideas of morality from Abrahamic religions. They ape Muslim fanatics and hardcore fundamentalist Christians, and that is where all this "disgust" comes from.
     
  16. Free Karma

    Free Karma Senior Member Senior Member

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    The problem is that most people dont actually know much about Hindu (me included..) things in general. They might know most of the major stories, and broad philosophical ideas from it, but in terms of studying the texts and so on and actually understanding/relecting on it it yourself, I dont think a lot of people do it. So what gets passed on to people are the popular notion through parents/friends, which for a long time has had some english (christian?) influences.
     
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  17. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well said mate !
     
  18. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Why should I admit to any views that others profess.... :).

    I believe Hinduism to be the most liberal and evolving faith.
     
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  19. sydsnyper

    sydsnyper Senior Member Senior Member

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    Dear... athiest dont-know-what-ideology-to-go-with... why do you shun the viewpoints of some. If people dont like homosexuals, they dont like it, period. Someone else wants to engage in it, so be it. Why do you want to be the social rambo and charge right at the religious, without knowing that the elitist intelligentsia like you have had your fair share of adventurism with public opinions.

    By the way, your kind has had its own share of anti-social shenanigans...some which ended up starving millions to death and sending the last of the wise to gulags... give it a thought once before preaching to the religious....

     
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  20. aerokan

    aerokan Regular Member

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    You come again with the same stupid argument of trying to materialize the silly dual-answer logic of only 'yes' or 'no' to any given question. When being a Hindu itself means being a part of open-source religion with changing views/opinions according to the knowledge/(laws of the land) of that time. And certainly, Abrahamic religions corrupted the core of Hindu culture and ofcourse in the due course of time, it will get rid of those influences with economic upswing and once the security of the Hindu fold is established once again.

    I too along with many of the compatriots in DFI claim to be a 'Hindu Nationalist' but don't care to judge the home-sexual kind irrespective of my personal dislike. And yes, i stand by the belief that there should be no law in favor or against homosexuals. Let everyone choose their own interpretation of the religion without taking any sides. i am specifically advising you to not to brand everyone under one umbrella just because you can't expand your simplistic interpretation of Hinduism and couldn't control the obsessive-compulsive-disorder to quantify the limits of Hindu religion. :rolleyes:
     
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  21. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    You cannot make the statement that Hinduism is the "most liberal" faith when it comes to sexuality, unless you can prove that a majority of "Hindus" are perfectly fine with homosexuality and transgender people (which you can't).

    All faiths have "evolved" over time because nothing is ever static, but religious evolution is not a one-way street towards more tolerance and more acceptance. Over the centuries, Hinduism has actually evolved to be less accepting and more repressive with regards to things like homosexuality, dress code, women's rights, premarital sex, etc. etc.. It is a fact that most modern "Hindus" are heavily influenced by Abrahamic ideals, and that Abrahamic concepts of morality are often presented by Hindu "spiritual leaders" as intrinsic to "Hinduism" itself.


    Actually, what I "like" or what you "like" is totally irrelevant to this debate. I neither "like" nor "dislike" homosexuals, but I believe they shouldn't be discriminated against in any way (because that is stupid). The problem is that many religious people, including many "Hindus", think that homosexuality is "immoral" and should be illegal.

    Maoism and Stalinism are organized religions in their own right. The blind worship of god-like figures, the personality cults, the official dogmas, the "witch hunts" of people who disagree with mainstream opinion, etc. are all characteristics of religion. Religious people have perfected these techniques centuries before Stalin and Mao even existed.


    What the hell is an "open-source religion"? :rofl:

    "Hinduism" is not a formal religion at all, which is why I always use this term with double quotes. It is simply a convenient catch-all term that is used to describe the various sects/cults that are native to the Indian subcontinent. There are huge differences between many of these sects/cults, including many which are irreconcilable (e.g. many "Hindus" are vegetarians who would never think of eating beef, but other "Hindus" eat beef and even humans).

    I doubt that the average "Hindu" will ever completely get rid of Abrahamic morals/values, because they truly believe that such morals/values are a part of their own religion and "culture". This is largely the result of the so-called "Hindu Renaissance" in the 19th century (it wan't really a "renaissance" at all), when many prominent "Hindu" religious organizations (like Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj) deliberately adopted Western/Abrahamic values. In other cases, the Abrahamic influence goes even farther back, to the centuries of Islamic domination. The Rajputs, for example, adopted the practice of sexual segregation (purdah) from the Muslims, where women were expected to cover themselves completely and remain indoors most of the time. In comparison, ancient Indian women would freely travel outside without even covering their breasts (just see some ancient paintings and carvings), which shocked many of the Muslim conquerors. Today, the practice of purdah is considered integral to "Hindu" Rajput culture, and no Rajput woman would travel outside with a bare torso.

    Indeed, with the exception of some festivals, some religious rituals, and the Caste System, the culture and civilization of Classical India is largely dead. It cannot and will not be revived. The current India, with all its Western and Abrahamic influence, is here to stay.


    Since you are a self-proclaimed "Hindu nationalist", I assume you would agree that "Hinduism" is a tolerant "religion".

    But if every "Hindu" has his own interpretation and his own beliefs, and if a majority of these "Hindus" are opposed to legalizing homosexuality, can "Hindus" really be called "tolerant" in the matters of sexuality?

    It is so hilarious seeing "Hindu" nationalists, Islamic mullahs, and Christian priests all gather on the same side of this issue. It cracks me up!
     
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