Navigating Diversity with Dr. Arunima Datta - Gender & Sexuality in Hinduism
In this special two-part episode, host Krystoff Kissoon sits down with guest, Dr. Arunima Datta, Assistant Professor of History at Idaho State University and historian of South and Southeast Asia and the British Empire, to delve deep into the ancient wisdom tradition of Hinduism.
In Part 1, Kissoon and Dr. Datta discuss how Hinduism has evolved over time to include 33 millions gods and goddesses today. They unpack the concept of Trimurti, or the Holy Trinity, in Hinduism, comprising the main gods Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). They also explore and compare the mythologies of goddesses such as Kali and Durga, as well as the concept of shakti, or divine feminine power.
In Part 2, Kissoon and Dr. Datta shift focus to an analysis of Queer or LGBTQ representation in Hindu mythology. They navigate the stories of Mohini, Ayappa, and Arjuna, and discuss the impact of colonization and migration patterns on the worship of these deviations from the norm in Hinduism. They also unpack the great love story of Krishna and Radha, portrayals of this story in classic Bollywood cinema, as well as the Hindu concept of "maya", or illusion. The conversation closes with a powerful talk about the fundamental similarities between Hinduism, the most powerful example of polytheism (worship of many gods), and Islam, the most powerful example of monotheism (belief in one God).
Dr. Datta's newest release, Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya, examines the central role of South Asian women labor migrants in the colonial plantation economies and uncovers their unwritten and unacknolweged stories by taking a closer look at archival texts in context with alternative archives. The book is available for order on Amazon and Cambridge University Press.