Are there any references to transgenders or transgenderism in any of the Hindu scriptures? Is it supportive, or is it against it? What do they say about their way of living?
Disclaimer.: My intention is not to hurt the sentiments of any community or gender. I am just proving what already mentioned in our scriptures. No hard feelings.
This answer is a reproduction of this deleted answer of mine after doing sone re-editing and fixing if some errors in it. Prd..
Transgenders are normally termed as Napunsak Linga in Sanskrit. Anyways, they are sometimes also called as Kinnars, in local language.
Mahabharata Udyoga parva chapter 188.:
"Duryodhana said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, how Sikhandin, O Ganga's son, having before been born a daughter, afterwards became a man, O foremost of warriors.' "Bhishma said, 'O great king, the eldest and beloved queen of king Drupada was, O monarch, childless (at first). During those years, king Drupada, O monarch, paid his adoration to the god Sankara for the sake of offspring, resolving in his mind to compass my destruction and practising the austerest of penances. And he begged Mahadeva, saying, 'Let a son, and not a daughter, be born unto me. I desire, O god, a son for revenging myself upon Bhishma.' Thereupon, that god of gods said unto him, 'Thou shalt have a child who will be a female and male. Desist, O king, it will not be otherwise.' Returning then to his capital, he addressed his wife, saying, 'O great goddess, great hath been the exertion made by me. Undergoing ascetic austerities, I paid my adorations to Siva, and I was told by Sambhu that my child becoming a daughter (first) would subsequently become a male person. And though I solicited him repeatedly, yet Siva said,--This is Destiny's decree. It will not be otherwise. That which is destined must take place!'
Some more examples of changing one's own genders are due to curse or changing forms, etc.
- Arjuna becoming eunuch due to curse of Urvashi in his Agyatwaas as Brihannala.
- Indra got yonis all over his body due to the curse of sage Gautama in Ahalya episode which were later turned Into eyes.
- Lord Vishnu's Mohini form and later giving birth to Lord Ayappa.
- Aruna changing into Aruni and giving birth to Sugreeva and Vali.
- Narada becoming woman due to Maya and marrying a king and giving birth to his children.
Trans means in between and gender means Linga (Sign). So, by definition those who are neither male nor female properly are transgenders. Surgical implementations are new concept. So, here I am counting hermaphrodite or someone having Klinefilter syndrome. In India , in local language we call them kinnars, hizra, etc.
Linga Purana says that the avyakta (Pradhana Prakriti) which comprises this universe is the ‘Linga’ of Shiva. This is logically true because Shiva is beyond creation and he again manifests as the creation, but to denote him who is attributeless, what could be a more appropriate sign than his creation itself? Hence Linga Purana says – ‘Pradhana (Prakriti)’ is the linga (sign) through which Shiva is denoted. In other words, Shiva who is the attributeless Supreme Being is known by the Prakriti, hence Prakriti is his symbol (linga).
“The non-charecterized (i.e., one without a sign or linga) is the root of the charecterized (i.e., one with a sign or linga). The avyakta (manifest Prakriti) is the charecterized (linga), while Shiva is without sign (alinga), but the one with sign or linga (i.e., prakriti) is said to be related to Shiva”.(Linga Purana 3:01).
8. Beyond the Avyaktam is Purusha, all-pervading and devoid of linga (indicative mark), whom knowing the mortal is freed and attains immortality. (Katha Up. Verse 2.3.8).
Com.—Beyond the Avyaktam is Purusha all-pervad-ing, being the cause of all akasa, etc., which is all-pervading. Devoid of linga ] that by which anything is reached (known) is linga such as intellect, etc. That does not exist in him; so he is devoid of linga. The meaning in effect is devoid of all the attributes of samsara. Him knowing, both from the preceptor and the sastras, the mortal, even during life, is freed from the knots of the heart, such as ignorance, etc., and even when the body falls, attains immortality. This clause is connected with the previous one thus. He is the Purusha beyond the Avyaktam, etc.
Now, a question arises is that, whether alinga = napungsak linga.?
Now, the answer as per my opinion is kinda No and Yes both. As, Alinga Symbolises Brahman and Napungsak Linga symbolises human. But, as Brahman is everything so even a Napungsak is also a Brahman.
O deities! Know that in this entire universe, there is none other than me (Shiva). I'm the non-dual one. I'm the ancient one. I'm the one who is eternal and I'm the non-eternal too, I'm the one who is blemishless (sinless). I'm the one called as Brahmanaspati. I'm all the directions. I'm savitri, I'm Gayatri. All these male, female and eunuchs also are me. I'm the Thrishtup, Jagati, Anushthup, Pankti chandas. I'm the one known through Vedas, I'm the truth, I'm peace, and I'm respect. I'm the lord of the universe, I'm the oldest, I'm the lord of all, I'm the Bhagawan (supreme personality of godhead), I'm the Lord, I'm the divine light. I'm the Itihasa, and Purana. I'm the Kalpa (eon), I'm the Upa-Kalpa (manvantara), I'm the one who create these Kalpas, I'm the knowledge, I'm in the hymns of Upanishads, I'm mantra, and I'm the Vyakhyana (commentary) also. I'm the sacrificial offerings, I'm the donor, I'm the donation, I'm Ihaloka (this material world where jiva takes birth), I'm Paraloka (world where Jiva goes after departure), I'm Akshara (imperishable) and I'm kshara (perishable) too, I'm all these creatures. Self-control, serenity, and secrecy are also me. I'm the one having faces everywhere. I'm the end, and middle, I'm the door, I'm outside, i'm inside, I'm the front and back as well. I'm the imperishable one. I'm light and also i'm darkness, I'm the Indriyas (organs) and the Tanmatras as well. I'm the mind, intellect and ego. I'm the Vishayas (subjects) also. I'm Brahma, I'm Vishnu, I'm Maheshwara, I'm Uma, I'm Skanda, I'm Vinayaka. I'm Indra, Agni and Yama also. I'm Nairuti, varuna and Vayo (anil). I'm Kubera, I'm the fourteen worlds. I'm the Sun, I'm the moon, I'm stars and planets as well, I'm all these creatures, I'm the Prana(soul), I'm the time, death, and eternity. I'm the past, present and future. I'm everything indeed! (Sri Shiv Gita 6.11-26).
In Rig Veda (10:5:7)., states Agni as an Androgynous Purusha.:
“aghnirha naḥ pra thamajā ṛtasya pūrva āyuni vṛṣabhaścadhenuḥ ”,
“Agni, our first-born of Holy Order (rita), the Milch-cow and the Bull in life's beginning.”
Again, In Mahabharata, though Napungsak are called as the creature who are not from these 3 worlds.
“Brahma has for his sign the lotus, Vishnu has for his the discus, Indra has for his sign the thunder-bolt. But the creatures of the world do not bear any of the signs that distinguish these deities. On the other hand, all creatures bear the signs that mark Mahadeva and his spouse. Hence, all creatures must be regarded as belonging to Maheswara. All creatures of the feminine sex, have sprung from Uma’s nature as their cause, and hence it is they bear the mark of femininity that distinguishes Uma; while all creatures that are masculine, having sprung from Siva, bear the masculine mark that distinguishes Siva. That person who says that there is, in the three worlds with their mobile and immobile creatures, any other cause than the Supreme Lord, and that which is not marked with the mark of either Mahadeva or his spouse should be regarded as very wretched and should not be counted among the creatures of the universe. Every being with the mark of the masculine sex should be known to be of Isana, while every being with the mark of the feminine sex should be known to be of Uma. This universe of mobile and immobile creatures is pervaded by two kinds of forms (viz., male and female)”. (MBH 13:14:231-233).
I hope this clarifies your queries. Prd..
in India, a kinnar, hizra, etc in local language it means transgender only. Plus, these kinnars also do singing and dancing in marriage ceremonies and child birth ceremonies, etc. The translation of the word 'Kinnar' is given by Google Translate as 'transgender.'
Kinnars are celestial beings fond of music and are kind of a hybrid beings. Different scriptures portrays them differently. Like half male-half female, half human-half bird or animal, etc.
I know, Wikipedia is not a good source material. But as the verse is said to be from Adi Parva of Mahabharata and also in block quote so it have to be authentic, i guess. So, i am citing the verse as it seems both beautiful and poetic in nature.
Mahabharata, Adi Parva.:
We are everlasting lover and beloved. We never separate. We are eternally husband and wife; never do we become mother and father. No offspring is seen in our lap. We are lover and beloved ever-embracing. In between us we do not permit any third creature demanding affection. Our life is a life of perpetual pleasures.
Conclusion.: It's a rough and unclear territory. Though Shikhandi was considered as a Man in the war but Bhishma considered her as Amba (female) only. So, it's a cliche. So, there's no real Conclusion to this question. The pronoun of that person varies from person to person. I guess.
I hope this helps. Prd..