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IPC Section 377: So what is really against the order of nature?

A former Supreme Court judge and a self-proclaimed rationalist once wrote that “section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which makes ‘unnatural’ sex a criminal offence should either be deleted by Parliament, or struck down as unconstitutional by the Courts, as it violates the right to privacy which has by judicial interpretation been included in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution (the right to life and liberty).” However, he did not stop with that.

More importantly, what he wrote following the above words was, “That having been said, I still regard homosexual activity as unnatural. After all. the primary purpose of sex is to have children, so that the human species may continue. Therefore ordinarily the natural attraction is between male and female. There is such a thing as nature, and one cannot deny it.” (1)

The hilarity here is that he claims to be a scientific, liberal and a rational person. Whatever these words mean the self-proclaimed rationalists many times end up being hypocrites because they try so hard to fit everything within a framework of what they consider is known or provable. Sadly, about 99.5 per cent of the universe is still unknown to science.

As a well-read person of certain standing the former judge ought to be aware of the Western scientific (re-)discoveries with regards to homosexual orientations and intercourse that is seen in almost all closely researched mammals and birds. Particularly because it is well reported in the lay English press across the globe including by their Indian counterparts.

Many worldly educated people have similar opinions. Almost all of them often have only a few children, if at all they bear more than one, these days. Can they vouch that it is because of abstinence and not some “unnatural” method of contraception against the order of nature? Can they deny that contraception is not a thing in nature? Can anyone deny that? Sadly, this applies to many Victorian-mindset desis.

The so-called rationalists are very adept at picking and choosing elements from both fact and fiction to fit the conclusion that they would love to reach. Their cognition is so poor that it rarely can cause cognitive dissonance. For dissonance or resonance to arise their cognitions should be left unbridled and free to vibrate and in sync with nature. It should not be caged in a narrowly defined “rational” cell. Emotion, which drives almost all human actions even in the most rational person (except maybe for the autistically gifted humans), is often acknowledgedly the very antithesis of rational. So they should allow their grey matter to relax which will be more in the order of nature.

THE REAL PROBLEM IS IDENTITY PIGEON-HOLING

Most objective and sensible Hindus will be well aware of the accommodating nature of Hinduism, be it sex for pleasure or the various forms of non-procreative sex. In fact, sex is not treated any different from any natural desire or even just nature’s call of the morning routine. It has its purpose, its place and respect too. However, everything in life is subservient to the larger “ultimate”  goal of life itself, which is enlightened living and ultimately a permanent state of realisation(moksha or muktior nirvana) and the path towards those intermediate endpoints should be dharmic. That is a Dharma-guided pursuit of artha and kama leading to moksha.

Thus, when something is in no way special and is acceptable as a routine expression of nature in its myriad forms it is neither looked down upon nor celebrated. The only criterion perhaps is that it not be made the ultimate goal of life itself, which ought to be enlightened living leading to moksha. Simply put, it is just part of nature, that is Prakriti. (2)

Does one make a big fuss about going to the washroom or having a preference for using the Western toilet or the Indian-style commode? No, not really. It is as simple and uncomplicated as that in Hinduism.

On the same vein, it is also not made a defining character of one’s identity. It is just one of many aspects of Prakriti. And, we all have hundreds of aspects and dozens of dimensions to us. Then, why be obsessed with sexuality? It is because of the adharma of materialism, where pleasure (kama) alone is the defining mode of living and also the ultimate goal in life. In the process, people go hunting for the happiness crest which by nature is temporal and often fleeting. In-between, before and after, it is often surrounded by troughs of sadness, or if lucky a state of bland existence.

For “n” number of happiness events or states, there are always [n+1..∞-n] events or states in-between these that are without-happiness or plain unhappiness-sadness states. (3)

On the contrary, enlightened living is about a persistent blissful living (brahmānandam or nithyānandam) and making progress towards eternal bliss (moksha). Here your nature or aspects do not define you, but only your ultimate goal and the dharmic progress (enlightened living) that you make towards that goal that defines you. Actually, in the Advaiticworld of oneness when everything is “one” where is the distinction to even worry about unique and individual definitions? Oneness is it, all-encompassing. Full stop. (4)

Let us not limit ourselves by our material identities. Life is more than about fleeting pleasures, it is about eternal bliss. Enjoy the process, enjoy the body, enjoy life. Do not imprison yourself in pigeon-holes of delineated artificial materialistic identities imposed on you by the spiritually primitive West. (5)

Thus, minority sexual orientations and identities are not against the order of nature but identifying oneself by just one of the infinite aspects of nature (Prakriti), without realising our oneness with everything in the universe, is indeed against the order of nature.

With the courts set to deliver their verdict on Section 377 tomorrow, one can only hope sense prevails. One can only hope.

FURTHER READING

  1. Katju M (2016) LGBT activity. facebook. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/justicekatju/posts/1241857595854784 [Accessed July 19, 2018].
  2. Homosexuality and Hinduism (2016) OpIndia.com. Available at: http://www.opindia.com/2016/02/homosexuality-and-hinduism/ [Accessed July 19, 2018].
  3. Swami Devamrita (2015) Hiding in Unnatural Happiness(Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) Available at: https://market.android.com/details?id=book-BlaYtAEACAAJ.
  4. Swami Nithyananda (2009) Living Enlightenment – Gospel of Paramahamsa Nithyananda(Nithyananda University Press) Available at: http://books.nithyananda.org/product/living-enlightenment-2/ [Accessed February 25, 2018].
  5. Gupt B (2018) Solve the riddle of Homosexuality by Indian Wisdom not by Modernity. IndiaFacts. Available at: http://indiafacts.org/solve-the-riddle-of-homosexuality-by-indian-wisdom-not-by-modernity/ [Accessed July 23, 2018].

(Editor’s note: The Supreme Court has finally announced its verdict and homosexuality is no longer a crime in India. You can read the details here.)

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Murali KV
The author, a medic and a graduate of the University of Cambridge, is currently a consultant and has over half-a-dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications, ranging from clinical research to population genetics.

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