I recently made a Facebook post with positive regard for America’s legalization of same-sex marriage. In the ensuing conversation someone stated that there is no such thing as homosexual marriage in Vedic culture. You can follow the link above to read the whole deal if you want, let’s not rehash it here. Let’s go straight to the point: homosexuality and non-heterosexual marriage in Vedic astrological lore.
Phaladīpika organizes the nine planets by gender, and describes them. Three genders are included in this organization. This is standard. The Vedic paradigm very frequently considers three (not two) genders.
Three of the nine planets are male – Sun is the mature male, Mars is the young male, and Jupiter is the tempered male. Three are female – Moon is the mature female, Venus the young female, and Rahu the untempered / wild female. Three are third-gender. Let’s talk about these.
The three third-gender planets are Ketu, Saturn, and Mercury.
Ketu is simply sexless – not simply in gender, but in sexual orientation. Ketu is asexual. (Therefore Ketu closely joining a romantic planet like Venus or the 5th lord in a horoscope indicates celibacy and decreased sexual activity, which can also be unusual in other ways, including gender-blurring or degendering).
Saturn is “a female who behaves as a male.” Mercury is “a male who behaves as a female.” Both of them, thus are not heterosexual. Saturn and Mercury influencing the romantic indicators indicates non heterosexual inclinations (perhaps not outright homosexual behavior unless there are several instances of these connections).
Of course, Saturn and Mercury are also gods – named Śani and Budha in Sanskrit – so they have lots of advantages human homosexuals don’t have. Specifically, their physical structure is much more malleable and cooperative to their will. Saturn, being “lesbian” marries a woman, Saṅgyā, and when required exhibits male sexual organs for intercourse. As is typical of women, however, Śani has low libido, and this caused “him” to inadvertently insult Saṅgyā on one potentially romantic occasion – and thereby got cursed by her not to be able to look directly at people.
Mercury married another third-gendered god, Īlaī. The two take turns being “husband” or “wife.” For six months of the year Mercury is male and Īlaī female, for the other six month Mercury is female and Īlaī is male.
So, there’s your example of homosexual marriage in the Vedas and amonst the vibudha devas (enlightened gods).
Oṁ tat sat.
Someone wrote to me asking:
These are the three examples listed in the article: Ketu, Saturn and Mercury.
In the article, you made statements as follows:
“Mercury married another third-gendered god, Īlaī.”
“Saturn is “a female who behaves as a male.” Mercury is “a male who behaves as a female.” ”
“Ketu is simply sexless – not simply in gender, but in sexual orientation. Ketu is asexual.”
As someone with a South Indian background, I can assure you that sentiments like this are unheard of. With all due respect, statements like these warrant proper scriptural citations and references, and if not exact references, at least names of scriptures or passages in which these are expressed in. I don’t mean to come across as homophobic or disrespectful, but I genuinely do want to know where such statements are found in scripture.
For the fact that Mercury, Saturn and Ketu are neither male nor female, see Phaladīpikā 2.27. Phaladīpikā is not a “scripture” (śāstra, either śruti or smṛti) but none of the astrological texts on jātaka are. The only sṁrtī on jyotiṣa is the jyotiṣa vedāṅga which is not for jātaka (natal interpretation) but for assessing calendric matters for yajña.
Regarding Mercury, śāstra pramāṇa states that Mercury (Budha) married Īla / Ilā and their child is Pururavas. The transgendered nature of Ilā is well documented, see Bhāgavatam 9th Canto, Devī Bhāgavata 1st Canto, Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva 147.26 and Ādi Parva Chapter 75).
As to the “six months” reference about – I am not sure of the source of this. It may have been from a book by Bipin Bihari, which of course may not be authentic. It may also be a result of symbolizing some astronomical observation.
Śani is thought of as a son of Chāyā, but as Chāya was a clone of Saṁjña, her children had some handicaps or irregularities, particularly Śani. In the folklore concerning Śani’s marriage to the daughter of Citrarātha, it is shown that he is very disinterested in sexuality, so has asexual tendency, or is not really interested in women. This is probably related externally to the birth handicap, though internally it is due to his Krishna-bhakti.
For an actual smṛti on homosexuality in general, I refer you to Vatsāyana’s kāma-sūtra. There homosexuality is accepted as a viable alternative, though heterosexual intercourse is presented as the more pleasurable approach.
– Vic DiCara