Swami Petitions Against Homosexuality

Indian guru Baba Ramdev is once again making headlines with his claim that he can cure homosexuality, a statement that has not been very well received by many. In a petition to India’s Supreme Court, the Swami is seeking that a ruling legalizing homosexuality be overturned.

Ramdev is claiming that he will launch powerful protests if the law, which decriminalized homosexuality, is not overturned. He states that homosexuality is a congenital defect, and believes that through asana, pranayama, and meditation that it can be “cured.” Swami Ramdev is well known all over the world with over 85 million watching his daily television programs. He is also well respected by some Indian leaders, who are devotees of his teachings.

Through the yogic practices he describes, Ramdev says that he can quell homosexual urges and essentially cure the “disease” of being gay.

So a while back, I wrote a post that received a great deal of feedback about the legitimacy of this self proclaimed guru, and many people spoke up in honor and support for Swami Ramdev. For those who love and respect him, he may be a great leader, even a guru, but for many of us who are not connected to his teachings, this sweeping judgment against an entire segment of humanity is difficult to overlook. And, though I honor and respect his knowledge and abilities, his tendency to make judgments as paramount as this leads me once again to question.

But, most of all, I am saddened by the way this one person, guru or not, is reflecting on the yoga community as a whole. Yoga teaches us to be open to all aspects of our spirituality and our humanity. It teaches us to free ourselves of judgment and accept our Self. Many practitioners of yoga have personal lives in which they make choices that are not “mainstream” or “conventional.” These choices alone do not make them any less committed to the path of yoga, nor do they give those of us who make different choices the right to judge or be self-righteous.

Humanity is a rainbow of people, experiences and choices. If the heart is open, and the intention is true, then the practice and experience of yoga can flourish within all of these colors. When Krishna opened Arjuna’s eyes to his true form, he was not simply the chaste, pure, white light of transcendence; he was also the fierce, destructive, and grotesque reality of all life. Yoga is the totality, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the hetero and the homo. The knowledge of yoga is one of union, not of opposition.

Where is that knowledge that transcends judgment, personal opinion, or individual self within these motives? Where is that totality of Krishna, of yoga, that leads us from the darkness of ignorance into the light of self-realization?

Comments 5

  1. This is an important topic, especially for those of us who value the emphasis many modern western schools of yoga place on kula or community. One of the only yoga centers I have ever walked away from is a center whose primary teacher was clearly uncomfortable having me in class. (I “read” as queer pretty clearly.) I didn’t stick around long enough to find out if she thinks homosexuality is a disease that should be listed in DMS-IV or if her homophobia comes from some place else. Instead, I tried a few classes, kept a count of the intolerant and/or heternormative comments she made, including those directed toward me, and when I reached my limit I stopped going back.

    For a while I thought about opening up a conversation with her, either in class or one on one. I also thought about writing a letter to the people who were overseeing her certification. In the end, I decided not to do anything for several reasons. In general, I was lacking for resources. Many of us, queer and otherwise, draw heavily on contemporary western ideas about gender, sexuality, and identity for self-understanding, and it’s not clear who (if anyone) has written about how best we can integrate those ideas with the ancient eastern philosophies that guide our yoga practices.

    I also felt I lacked context for the conversation. Lots of yoga materials speak to tolerance and respect, and I’ve read several explicit discussions about the importance of maintaining appropriate male/female student/teacher behavior. I’ve come across fewer discussions about homophobia, racism, and other kinds of things that teachers in all kinds of education do well to think about, not only with regard to their own prejudices, but also with regard to the attitudes students may bring with them to class.

    Last, and most practically, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to be part of this particular teacher’s community. In then end, I decided I didn’t want to commit to her or her studio the kind of time and energy it takes to open up the Pandora’s box of someone else’s prejudice.

    That said, yoga matters a lot to me, and I’m glad to see some spaces for dialogue, including Kelly’s post here.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, and providing your perspective. I too believe that there needs to be a dialogue about all forms of prejudice in our yoga communities. Thanks for contributing to it.

  3. i think that if swami ramadev has said something about homasexuality though against it he knows it well for sure that what he is talking about. I do not think that there is any problem to wait and see whether he can actually cure the “disease” of being gay

  4. Hi Kelly Golden, actually i don’t know how you are or if you are gay, thing of which I don’t care. Just I was reading this article and I sow your name there. I don’t even know who really is Swami, to say the true I’ve read only his biography pushed by this article. What I wanted to say is that for my opinion he is doing a great thing, trying to cure this world illness that is in contrary with God’s law.Why in contrary? Everyone know that God created Adam and Eve and so the humankind could be multiplied, what would have happened if the firsts persons were both with the same sex or your father had married another man? Would you been here today in this world? So, don’t be so kind with those persons who are polluting the society and put the fault on Swami and say that is doing judgments. He is just saying the true:”those peoples need to be cured” and sometimes this hurts. Homosexuals are just peoples with this sexual problem and finally this man says that he have the cure, so why say that he is judging when instead he is trying to help them? I’ve heard some homosexuals say that we didn’t chose to be like this but we are, now they have the possibility to change. The best thing we can do is TRY TO HELP THEM. God bless everyone of you.Namaste.

  5. harmens – I think you could make the exact opposite argument that homophobic people like you and Swami Ramadev are the ones who need help and need to be cured. And not everyone believes in the Christian creation myth story, especially in India. As yogis we must strive towards seeing god in the eyes of all, gay or straight.

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