As the Supreme Court hears a batch of petitions on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in India, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on January 9 spoke in support of the queer community.
In an interview to Sangh publication Organiser, Bhagwat has said members of the queer community are human beings who should have their own private and public space, and that they have the right to live as others do – presumably, the heterosexual mainstream.
To buttress his demand, Bhagwat turned to the Mahabharata, which provided him with a “humane approach” to give the queer community social acceptance “without much hullabaloo”.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in India by the Supreme Court in 2018.
The story in the Mahabharata from which Bhagwat draws his insights is that of two supposedly inseparable gay generals, Hansa and Dimbhaka of Jarasandh. The story goes that both of them, reacting to the rumour that the other had been killed in the war, drowned themselves in the Yamuna as they could not imagine life without each other. Since the story has been narrated by Bhagwat, it is unlikely to be met with a backlash from Hindutva supporters.
As writer Devdutt Patnaik said, “If a gay mythologist [like Patnaik himself] had interpreted this story [the way Bhagwat does]…