Same-Sex Love in India presents a stunning array of writings on same-sex love from over 2000 years of Indian literature. Translated from more than a dozen languages and drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern fictional traditions, these writings testify to the presence of same-sex love in various forms since ancient times, without overt persecution.
This collection defies both stereotypes of Indian culture and Foucault’s definition of homosexuality as a 19th-century invention, uncovering instead complex discourses of Indian homosexuality, rich metaphorical traditions to represent it, and the use of names and terms as early as medieval times to distinguish same-sex from cross-sex love.
An eminent group of scholars have translated these writings for the first time or have re-translated well-known texts to correctly make evident previously underplayed homoerotic content. Selections range from religious books, legal and erotic treatises, story cycles, medieval histories and biographies, modern novels, short stories, letters, memoirs, plays and poems.
From the Rigveda to Vikram Seth, this anthology will become a staple in courses on gender and queer studies, Asian studies, and world literature.
Ruth Vanita (1955-) is an Indian academic, activist and author who specializes in lesbian and gay studies, gender studies, and British and South Asian literary history. She is now Professor at the University of Montana. She is the author of several books, and many literary translations. She has also published many articles on Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and Indian literature, in journals such as Shakespeare Survey, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Comparative Drama, Postcolonial Studies, GLQ and Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.
Saleem Kidwai, medieval historian, gay studies scholar and translator, taught history at Ramjas College, University of Delhi for many years, and now is an independent scholar. He was one of the first academics to speak publicly as a member of the LGBT community. His other academic areas of interest are Mughal politics and culture, the history of tawaifs, and north Indian music. With Ruth Vanita, he is co-editor of Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History (New York: Palgrave; New Delhi: Macmillan, 2000), a pioneering work documenting and exploring the indigenous roots of same-sex desire in South Asia. Kidwai has also translated singer Mallika Pukhraj’s autobiography, Song Sung True.