Tritiya-Prakriti

A “third gender” has been acknowledged within the Dharma since Vedic times.  The Vedas refer to a “third sex”, roughly defined as people for whom sex is not procreative, either through impotence or a lack of desire for the opposite sex.

In texts such as the Sushruta Samhita and the Sabda Kalpadruma Sanskrit-Sanskrit dictionary, apart from male and female, are listed more than 20 types of genders, such as transwoman, transmen, androgynous, pangender, trigender, etc. (known in Sanskrit as sandha, kliba, napumsaka, and panda).

They are altogether referred to as Tritiya-Prakriti (literally, “third nature”).

Included among the lists are transgender people (sandha), intersex people (nisarga), and three different types of homosexual men (mukhebhaga, kumbhika and asekya).

Such texts demonstrate that third-sex terms like sandha and napumsaka actually refer to many different types of “men who are impotent with women,” and that simplistic definitions such as “eunuch” or “neuter” may not always be accurate and in some cases totally incorrect.

This category includes a wide range of people with mixed male and female natures such as effeminate males, masculine females, transgender people, transsexual people, the intersexed, androgynes, neutrois and so on. So does the Kama Tantra and the Smriti-Ratnavali of Vacaspati.

Members of the Tritiya-Prakriti (Third Gender) are however not ostracized in traditional (pre-colonization) Hindu Dharma, and are sometimes recognized for often having divine powers or insights. The Dharmic view is that the homosexual nature is also part of the natural law of God – and therefore should be accepted for what it is.

None of the scriptures, whether revealed (Shruti) or remembered (Smriti), explicitly condemns homosexuality. The Dharma allows for many instruments of knowledge to define Truth. Everything in this world is a reflection of the original subtle and spiritual reality.

Kama (the 4th of the Puruṣārtha) also includes erotic desire. The primordial Dharmic attitude is that sexuality should be fully integrated into the fabric of life. In the Hindu Dharma, love is regarded as an eternal force. It is seen as devotion between two people, whether romantic or platonic. Love and devotion are important in attaining Moksha, or liberation from the cycle of rebirths.

Nowhere in the sacred texts is romantic love excluded to all but a man and woman. Since homosexuals can experience romantic love, homosexual sexual relationships are not all the product of lust. We often concentrate too much on the “sex” in homosexual, although a committed, loving relationship between two people is way much more than just sexual activity. Long-term loving, monogamous relationships are the norm, in both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

At any rate, homosexuality is certainly not described as a “crime” or a “sin” in any of the scriptures  – those are Abrahamic concepts from the Middle East which only appeared over the last 2,000 years.

Nevertheless, some Hindu communities continue to be unwelcoming of Tritiya-Prakriti (LGBTI) people, often reflecting attitudes imported from conquering nations, such as the Moslems and the British Empire in India or the Moslems and the Dutch in Indonesia. This results exclusively from cultural and ethnic attitudes, it is not based on spiritual grounds.

In the Scriptures: No Interdiction

Homosexuality is discussed frankly and without condemnation in several Hindu scriptures:

• None of the sacred texts, such as the Vedas or the Upanishads, contain a straightforward condemnation of homosexuality. The only reference comes in the Manusmrti (Laws of Manu), one of the Dharmasastra texts that lists religious laws.

“A brahman who has had a homosexual affair, or an intercourse with a female on a bullock cart or during the day, shall be relieved of such sin by taking bath with his clothes on.” {Chapter 11 – Section 173}

It is to be noticed that it was a caste based society and the above points refer only to Brahmans. Which implies, it is neither guilty for other people to be homosexuals nor any punishment are required.

So, the Manusmriti, which usually comes under heavy criticism for its regressive pronouncements on caste, does express mild opposition to homosexuality, but prescribes only such quixotic punishments as bathing in public with one’s clothes on…!

• The Rig Veda, sculpts and vestiges depict sexual acts between women as revelations of a feminine world where sexuality was based on pleasure.

• In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, IV:4, there is a passage about sex magic which was so explicit that Max Müller felt compelled to translate it into Latin.

• The Kama Sutra states that homosexual sex “is to be engaged in and enjoyed for its own sake as one of the arts.” In the Kama Sutra, Chapter VI, lesbianism in harems is described, and in Chapter IX, male and female homosexuality in the context of a discussion of oral sex. “…in all things connected with love, everybody should act according to the custom of his country and his own inclination.”

• The Kama Sutra also refers to svairini, who are “independent women who frequent their own kind or others” (2.8.26) —

Or, in another passage:

the liberated woman, or svairini, is one who refuses a husband and has relations in her own home or in other houses” (6.6.50).

“A woman known for her independence, with no sexual bars, and acting as she wishes, is called svairini. She makes love with her own kind. She strokes her partner at the point of union, which she kisses.” (Jayamangala on Kama Sutra 2.8.13).

• Another passage in the Vedas, “Vikruti Evam Prakriti” – which roughly translates to “What seems unnatural, is natural” — can be seen as further evidence that homosexuality is part of the Dharma, or at least tolerated.


• The Sushruta Samhita, for example, a highly respected medical text dating back to at least 600 B.C., mentions two different types of homosexual men (kumbhika – men who take the passive role in anal sex; and asekya – men who devour the semen of other men) as well as transgender people (sandha – men with the qualities, behavior and speech of women).

The Sushruta Samhita also mentions the possibility of two women uniting and becoming pregnant as a result of the mingling of their sexual fluids. It states that the child born of such a union will be “boneless.” Such a birth is indeed described in the Krittivasa Ramayana of Bengal (see below).

• In the Mahabharata epic, a transgender character named Sikhandi plays a pivotal role (5.191-5). Sikhandin was born as the daughter of King Drupada of the Panchalas, who had previously been childless. Druapada begged the God Mahadeva, to give him a son. He told him that “Thou shalt have a child who will be a female and male. Desist, O king, it will not be otherwise.”

• In the same text, Arjuna cross-dresses to become Brihannala, teacher of fine arts. But Brihannda was not exactly a woman but a person of tritiya prakriti which roughly means a person who has both male and female qualities. Arjuna goes to visit his father, Indra, in Amravati while in exile. There he spurns the advances of Urvashi who, at being rejected, curses him to become a eunuch. His father – the king of Devas – modifies the curse, so Arjuna loses his manhood just for a year.

• The Mahabharata mention several characters who demonstrate a range of sexual orientations and gender identities, including Shikhandi, Chitrangada (wife of Arjuna and mother of Babruvahana), and Brihannala. None of these characters are discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Rather, they are all treated with respect, and judged by their abilities rather than their sexuality.

• Several other ancient works such as the Artha Shastra (a treatise on politics and economics) have numerous mentions of LGBT individuals in various professions free from any persecution.

• The Mahanirvana Tantra exclude the third-gendered from the right of inheritance, although establishing they have the right to be financially supported by their family.

• In the Jayamangala of Yashodhara, an important 12th-century commentary on the Kama Sutra, it is also stated: “Citizens with this kind of homosexual inclination, who renounce women and can do without them willingly because they love one another, get married together, bound by a deep and trusting friendship.”

Therefore, we cannot point to anything in the Shruti texts that supports treating Tritiya-Prakriti (LGBTI) persons as being inferior to non-LGBT persons, let alone supports their persecution.

Not only do the Shrutis lay absolutely no bar on moksha for LGBT persons, the ancient Codes of Conduct, as well as other Smriti texts seem to have largely ignored the LGBT phenomenon, rather than persecute them – or positively focused on their abilities, rather than their sexuality or gender.

So, we see that it is a bit ridiculous to see the government of India today pairing with Russia, Pakistan and Iran (!) to curtail the rights of those who have an alternate sexual orientation under the garb of “Indian culture”…

Moreover, homosexuality doesn’t contradict any of the Yamas and Niyamas (Morals and Ethics).


Opinion of the Scholars

Some right-wing Hindu groups, both in India and in the United States, have expressed virulent opposition to homosexuality. However, several modern Hindu teachers emphasize that all desire, homosexual or heterosexual, is the same, and that aspirants must work through and transcend desire.

Swami Vivekananda on its article on homosexuals: “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship or psychic control or philosophy – by one or more or all of these and be free.” All will eventually attain moksha, homosexuals will not be damned eternally because of this birth.

• Mathematician Shakuntala Devi interviewed Srinivasa Raghavachariar, head priest of the Srirangam temple, in her 1977 book The World of Homosexuals. Raghavachariar told her same-sex partners must have been cross-sex partners in a former life. The gender may change, he said, but the soul retains its attachments; hence love impels them toward one another.

Alain Danielou says that “The hermaphrodite, the homosexual and the transvestite have a symbolic value and are considered privileged beings, images of the Ardhararishvara”.

A similar merger occurs between the beauty and prosperity goddess Lakshmi and her husband Vishnu, forming the hermaphrotitic or androgynous Lakshmi-Narayana.

• In his book, Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, Vaishnava monk Amara Das Wilhelm demonstrates how ancient expressions of Hindu Dharma accommodated homosexual and transgender persons much more positively than we see in India today: “Early Vedic teachings stressed responsible family life and asceticism but also tolerated different types of sexualities within general society.”

• Historians Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai, in their pioneering book, Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History, for the first time compiled extracts from Indian texts, from ancient to modern times, including many Hindu texts, translated from 15 Indian languages.

• When, in 2002, Hindu scholar Ruth Vanita interviewed a Shaiva priest who had performed the marriage ceremony for two women, the priest said that having studied Hindu scriptures, he had concluded ‘Marriage is a union of spirits. And the spirit is not male or female.’

• The Dalai Lama (head of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, which shares a lot with Tantric Hinduism) has also thrown his considerable moral weight behind equal marriage, condemning homophobia and saying lesbian and gay sex is fine as long as it is consensual.

Moksha is the Goal

Ultimately, the Hindu Dharma is a path towards liberation and Brahman (God, or Shiva). Everyone moves from Kama, Artha and Dharma to Moksha… Each one picks his or her path and speed suitable to one mental capacity and upbringing. People move from a lower state to higher state, unlike in the recent Abrahamic traditions of Judaism/Christianity/Islam that follow only a binary “either hell or heaven” kind of view…

Unlike those Abrahamic religions, the Hindu Dharma does not give any promise of “salvation” to be attained by just “being a Hindu”. Hinduism has standards of dharmic behaviour, to which we should all aspire. Vivekabhudi, or power to differentiate right-wrong is what which makes human different from animals. And the Hindu Dharma is for those who have this viveka.

One of Hinduism’s core teachings is that every being is Divine or a reflection of Divine qualities, regardless of one’s outer attributes. Moksha is attained by one’s real Self, or Atman, which is distinct from one’s physical body and personality (ego), as well as outer attributes such as race, caste, gender, and sexual orientation.

Progress towards Moksha comes through yogic spiritual practices (selfless service, loving devotion of God, simple living, prayer and meditation, etc.), and its attainment implies, among other things, completely transcending material desires and impulses, including sexual ones.

Therefore, a Tritiya-Prakriti (LGBTI) person who lives selflessly and has mastered his or her impulses (sexual or otherwise) is actually closer to moksha than a non-LGBT person who is a slave to desires!

Ardhanariswarar

Homophobia: A Legacy of Colonialism

India’s current sexually conservative policies are a product of both the Moslem invasions and of British colonialism. The right-wing leaders who are rabid against homosexuality are actually only following the line of the Moslems and Christians…! The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that homosexual acts are punishable by life in prison is nothing but a colonial legacy of the British Raj!

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “This Alien Legacy” describes how laws in over 3 dozen countries (from India to Uganda and Nigeria to Papua New Guinea), derive from a single law on homosexual conduct that the British colonial rulers imposed on India in 1860!

The report says, “They believed laws could inculcate European morality into resistant masses. They brought in the legislation, in fact, because they thought ‘native’ cultures did not punish ‘perverse’ sex enough”.

The Hindu Dharma itself is never against anything which is naturally present in the world. Yet, because Hinduism originated in India and the majority of the world’s Hindus live there, Indian law is often seen as a worldwide barometer of Hinduism’s attitude towards LGBT rights.

The “third gender” (tritiya prakriti) is now legalised only in Tamil Nadu with special voter IDs and public toilets. The ancient Tamil word for “third gender” is ‘Aravanan’, now used matter-of-factly by social workers and lay public alike and still a ticking part of local cults like that of Yellamma, ‘deity of the fallen’, across the Deccan.

In Nepal however, laws have been introduced providing equal rights to the LGBTI community and amend all discriminatory laws against them. Most political parties and religious groups, often the loudest opponents of gay rights elsewhere, promptly accepted it. In addition, a parliamentary committee preparing a same-sex marriage bill. The country’s three major parties all support LGBTI rights.

Householders’ View vs. Modern Dharmic View

However, recognition of Tritiya-Prakriti (LGBTI) people is not always accepted by the “householder majority” and is often considered “heretical”. Indian culture is quite passionate about family stability and the rather strict mores that accompany life in that paradigm.

Marriage in Indian Hinduism is said to fulfill 3 functions: Prajaa, Dharma and Rati.

• Prajaa is progeny for perpetuation of one’s family

• Dharma is fulfillment of responsibilities

• Rati is companionship as friends and mutual pleasure as lovers.

Opponents of homosexuality argue that one of the 3 functions of marriage is Prajaa – the progeny for perpetuation of one’s family. A homosexual couple cannot procreate, and thus should not be married.

But these 3 functions of marriage are given in the Dharma Shastras, books that are not binding to Hindus, and thus Prajaa is not a determining factor in a Hindu marriage. However, even if the 3 functions of marriage were binding in terms of marriages, Prajaa may be interpreted in a number of ways that do not involve procreation at all…!

Is Gay/Third Gender Marriage allowed?

What about marriage as a religious rite? India actually has a centuries long history of wedding rites for Hijras, (a community of transgender people in India). In recent years, some Hindu priests and same-sex couples in the U.S. and around the world have adapted and found acceptance in traditional Hindu wedding rituals.

The Saptapadi, for example, is a key marriage ritual that enunciates 7 vows of an ideal Hindu marriage. The vows remind every couple about the true purpose of a life partnership:

• 1 – Nourishing one another;

• 2 – Growing strong together;

• 3 – Fulfilling spiritual obligations;

• 4 – Working towards happiness and fulfillment through mutual respect;

• 5 – Working for the welfare of all living beings through raising virtuous children;

• 6 – Praying for bountiful seasons which they may go through together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows

• 7 – Praying for a life of understanding, loyalty, and companionship not only for themselves, but also for universal peace.

The 4 circumambulations around the ceremonial fire (which is part of most Hindu weddings) evoke the couple’s commitment, both together and as individuals, to the 4 Purusharthas (pursuits in life): Dharma (right action), Artha (prosperity), Kama (material pleasure) and Moksha (liberation).

While the government may regulate the legal right to marriage, marriage as a religious rite obviously falls within religious freedom. Temples, religious leaders and priests have an inalienable right to define marriage in conformity with their traditions, as they continue to interpret and reinterpret them over time.

Because Hinduism has no central authority that controls theology, and values a tradition of interpretation according to time and space by those qualified and with spiritual competency (adhikara), different groups and individuals may move (or not) at a varying pace on a religious sanction of a rite as fundamental as marriage.

Therefore, Hinduism’s spiritual essence should not be conflated with local social practices. Even in ancient times, the Shruti nor the Smriti never advocated any harsh punishments for homosexuality.

It is therefore important to evolve a uniquely Hindu perspective on LGBT rights, rather than follow existing social mores which may be influenced by other factors. The tradition allows for the understanding and interpretation of customs to change over time.

Thus, LGBTI people marry for the right reasons of commitment, not just unadulterated sex, as a means of training their egos to give to the other person, a technique deified through the sacrament of marriage so that both souls can evolve towards their final salvation.

Social recognition is necessary for homosexuals, because trying to live in a heterosexual relationship would lead to disaster and thus to adharmic behaviour. Not everyone can live the life of a renunciate. Homosexuals the same as everyone else have the divine spark of God within them. Also, anyone who has homosexual tendencies but remains celibate is as virtuous as a heterosexual renunciate.

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami writes in Dancing With Shiva: “Sons and daughters who are gay may not benefit from marriage, and should be taught to remain loyal in relationships and be prepared to cope with community challenges” (This is not just liberalism, since in many other ways Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is conservative).

Satguru Subramuniyaswami’s advice is an instruction to the rest of us to treat gays who follow his advice with respect. If they are having long term relationships, doing their duty to the community, God, and holy people, then they are acting dharmically. Whatever karma brought them to this situation they are acting in the best way possible to them.

Tritiya-Prakriti Deities

There are many transgender gods especially in Tantric Hinduism, which has strongly influenced Nepalese Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Indonesian Shaivism. Tantra is pure knowledge, it doesn’t have a single “doctrine” and is more world-embracing than the world-denying Vedanta branch of Hinduism.

The scriptures contain many surprising examples of diversity in both sex and gender. Many of the deities are androgynous and some even change gender in order to participate in homoerotic behavior. There are many accounts of beings who transformed their gender by supernatural means in the ancient Hindu epics and Puranas.

There are deities who are intersex (both male and female); who manifest in all three genders; who switch from male to female or from female to male; male deities with female moods and female deities with male moods; deities born from two males or from two females; deities born from a single male or single female; deities who avoid the opposite sex; deities with principal companions of the same sex, and so on.

• The Ardhanarishwar form of Shiva is the union of the female form Shakti and the male one Shiva is represented by icons where half the side is shown in male attire or form and the other half is shown in female attire or form. Ardhanarishwara means ‘The Lord who is half a woman, and half man’. This form is considered to be one of the most powerful forms of Shiva as it encompasses both the powers and characters of the two sexes.

• Agni, the god of fire, wealth and creative energy, has same-sex sexual encounters that involve accepting semen from other gods. Although married to the goddess Svaha, Agni is also shown as being part of a same-sex couple with Soma (the Moon-god). Agni takes a receptive role in this relationship, accepting semen from Soma with his mouth, paralleling Agni’s role in accepting sacrifices from Earth to Heaven. It is emphasized that these are mithuna (ritual sexual) encounters, and Agni and his mouth represent the feminine role.

• In some myths, Agni ejaculates onto a mountain that was itself made from Shiva’s divine semen, making Kārttikeya the child of the two gods, according to an interpretation by Markandeya in the Vana Parva.

• In the Mahabharata, Kārttikeya is also the son of Agni, who ejaculates into the hands of one of the Krittikas (the Pleiades), who in turn throws the semen into a lake, from whence Kārttikeya is born.

• In the Shiva Purana and the Ramayana, the gods fear the outcome of Shiva and Parvati’s “unending embrace,” and interrupt their coitus. Shiva then appears before the gods and declares “now let him step forward who will accept the semen I discharge”. At the prompting of the gods, Agni captures Shiva’s semen in his hands and swallows it.

• In the 11th century text Kathasaritsagara, hiva forces the reluctant Agni to receive his semen. The semen causes a burning sensation in those that ingest it, prompting Agni to divest it into wives of a group of sages, under Shiva’s advice. The sages’ wives in turn drop the semen into the Ganges river, where it flows to the shore from which Kārttikeya springs.

• In the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu takes the form of Mohini, a beautiful enchantress, in order to trick the demons into giving up Amrita after the manthan. But Lord Shiva falls for Mohini, and they have a relationsip, with Shiva being fully aware of the real identity of Mohini. The result of this union was a son (Lord Ayyappa).

Numerous deities have been considered patrons of third-sex or homoerotically-inclined people. This patronage can originate in mythological stories about the deity, or from religious practices and rituals. Homosexuals traditionally worship their own specific deities, such as the goddess Bahuchara for their spiritual link to the Absolute Brahman.

• The goddess of fire, love and sexuality, Arani, has been linked to lesbian eroticism via rituals in her honor: for example two pieces of wood perceived as feminine, called the adhararani and utararani, are rubbed together, simulating a spiritual lesbian interaction.

Bahuchara is a patron goddess of the Hijra. In popular iconography she is often shown riding a rooster and carrying a sword, trident and a book. Various stories link Bahuchara to castration or other changes in physical sexual characteristics, sometimes as the result of her aiming curses against men.

Samba, the son of Krishna, is also a patron of eunuchs, transgender people and homoeroticism. Samba dresses in women’s clothes to mock and trick people, and so that he can more easily enter the company of women and seduce them. In the Mausala Purana, Samba, dressed as woman, is cursed after being questioned about “her” supposed pregnancy. As a result of the curse, Samba, although remaining male, gives birth to an iron pestle and mortar.

Mitra and Varuna, are gods of great intimacy and often mentioned together in Vedic literature. These Adityas preside over the universal waters wherein Mitra controls the ocean depths and lower portals while Varuna rules over the ocean’s upper regions, rivers and shorelines. In Vedic literature, Mitra and Varuna are portrayed as icons of affection and intimate friendship between males (the Sanskrit word mitra means “friend” or “companion”).

They are depicted riding a shark or crocodile together while bearing tridents, ropes, conch shells and water pots. Sometimes they are portrayed seated side-by-side on a golden chariot drawn by seven swans. Ancient Brahmana texts furthermore associate Mitra and Varuna with the two lunar phases and same-sex relations: “Mitra and Varuna, on the other hand, are the two half-moons: the waxing one is Varuna and the waning one is Mitra”.

•Some versions of the Bengali text Krittivasa Ramayana contain a story of two queens that conceived a child together. When the famous king of the Sun Dynasty, Maharaja Dilipa, died, the demigods become concerned that he did not have an heir. Shiva appeared before the king’s two widowed queens and commanded, “You two make love together and by my blessings you will bear a beautiful son.” The two queens execute Shiva’s order and one of them conceived a child.

• In the Mahabharata is the story of Budh (the planet Mercury), which is neither male nor female. Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) discovers that his wife Tara is pregnant with the child of her lover, Chandra (the Moon god). He therefore curses the unborn child. The neuter Budh (Mercury) later marries Ila, a man who becomes a woman when he accidentally trespasses into a forest. In the Ramayana, two widows who want to give birth drink a magic potion and make love to each other.

• In Valmiki Ramayana, in order to taste Ravana, Rakshasa women kiss other women on their lips.

Tritiya-Prakriti (LGBTI) Heroes

• The hero-king Bhagiratha, who brought the sacred river Ganga from heaven to earth, was miraculously born to and raised by two co-widows, who made love together with divine blessing. A number of texts in Sanskrit and Bengali tell this story, including the Krittivasa Ramayana, an extremely popular devotional text. These texts explain that Bhagiratha’s name comes from the word bhaga (vulva), because he was born of two vulvas.

• There is also the story of Narada, who desires to understand Lord Vishnu’s Maya. The lord asks him to bathe in a lotus pond. As soon as he enters the pond, he transforms into a female form and forgets his earlier identity. He then gets married to a king, lives the life of a queen and even has children. The gender and sexual divide was often diminished by Indian writers.

• There is the story of 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).

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.

• There is the story of 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).

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.

Sacred Art

Ancient temples such as those at Khajuraho depict sexual acts in sculptures on the external walls. Some of these scenes involve same-sex sexuality:

• An orgiastic group of three women and one man, on the southern wall of the Kandariya Mahadeva temple in Khajuraho. One of the women is caressing another. A similar group, also on the southern wall, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, apparently engaged in intercourse, although her partner is facing away from the viewer and their gender cannot be determined. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

• Also at Khajuraho, a relief of two women embracing one another.

• At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.

• At the Shiva temple at Ambernath, constructed in 1060 CE, a badly weathered relief suggests an erotic interest between two women.

• At the Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, dating from the 10th or 11th century, a sculpture depicts two women engaged in oral sex.

• A 12th-century Shiva temple in Bagali, Karnataka depicts a scene of apparent oral sex between two males on a sculpture below the shikhara.

• At Padhavli near Gwalior, a ruined temple from the 10th century shows a man within an orgiastic group receiving fellatio from another male.