three pairs of lovers with space

GREEK LOVE IN INDIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

 

The regions into which the world has been divided for exploration of the history of Greek love have coincidences of geography and culture that have enabled useful generalisations, but India and Central Asia is an exception, its lands having nothing particular in common from the point of view of the practise of pederasty.

This is mostly due to religious differences. Being Islamic, Central Asia and Moslem India had much in common with the Near East and North Africa, except that pederasty in them seems to have been more deeply entrenched, more so in the twentieth century than any other part of the world. By contrast, Hindu India seems always to have been quite antagonistic to it, resulting in an exceptionally poor pederastic history, even though Hinduism did not condemn pedication as harshly as did Islam and Christianity.  Buddhist Ceylon had more in common with South East Asia than India from the point of view of Greek love:  it appears to have been well tolerated until British influence became effective, without ever becoming institutionalised.

 

Turkistan

India and Central Asia in 1949

The Baburnama, the autobiography of Babur, the Central Asian conqueror who went on in 1526 to become the first Mughal Emperor in India includes a description of his falling in love with a boy as well as an assortment of character sketches of others including critical comments about their indulging in pederasty.  These illustrate the popularity of Greek love among the great of the region, despite their large harems. Babur's implied views that there was nothing wrong with being in love with boys, but that habitual sex with them was a vice, were quite common amongst pre-modern Moslems.

Notes of a Journey in Turkistan, 1873 is American explorer and diplomat Eugene Schuyler's descriptions of dancing-boys and buying slave-boys in newly-conquered Russian Turkistan and the adjoining emirate of Bukhara.

 

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Greek love remained ubiquitous late in the twentieth century, as described by Drew and Drake in a section of their Boys for Sale (1969) also concerning neighbouring Bukhara. It was never seriously challenged until the puritanical Taliban took power in 1996. It precariously survived both them and the country's even more hostile American conquerors of 2001, as was reported by several foreign journalists who followed in their wake.  Even attempting to understand Greek love was taboo in the English-speaking world by this date, so their reports raised the subject as part of an attack on Afghan culture, rather than to enlighten their readers about it. However, the author of Kandahar Journal; Shh, It's an Open Secret: Warlords and Pedophilia Journal, published in The New York Times in 2002, while holding the usual 21st-century misconceptions (what he described having nothing to do with the pedophilia of his title, for example) had the strangely unfashionable idea of actually asking a boy about his love affair with a man, as if his thoughts about it mattered. The slight insight thus given into pederasty being practised with an openness no longer possible in other parts of the world is so rare for this late date that it is reproduced here as a unique exception to this website's unwillingness to explore the history of Greek love after the last beacons of hope for it were snuffed out in the penultimate decade of the twentieth century.

 

Tibet

In The Boyhood of Tashi Tsering, Lhasa ca. 1943-9, the author describes the sexual liaisons between monks and boys, including his own as a boy, that were ubiquitous and accepted so long as they did not violate Buddhist tenets by including penetration.

The anthropologist Prince Peter of Greece visited the Tibetan-inhabited areas of India in 1938 and 1949-57 for his Study of Polyandry (The Hague, 1963), in which (pp. 457-8) he said about homosexuality there:

On the question of homosexuality, I gathered from Lobsang P’hüntsok that there were “men who did not like women” as he put it, but more than that he would not say. The monasteries in Tibet proper have, however, a very strong reputation for male homosexuality, and jokes about master-novice relations are often made along these lines. George N. Patterson assured me in Kham, interviewing patients medically in the course of his work, that he was often called upon to treat monks for venereal disease of the anus, fistulas and other ailments, which were admittedly the result of homosexual contact, and which the people who came to him for medicine made no attempt to dissimulate.

 

India

A New Account of East India and Persia by the English traveller John Fryer mentions the prevalence of pederasty in the 1670s in Moslem Surat and amongst fakirs.

Three valuable accounts have been written about the Paidikion, British army Captain Kenneth Searight's compilation of pederastic writings, which included an immensely detailed list of his many erotic encounters with boys from 1897 to 1917, mostly in India.  The first was Paidikion: A Paiderastic Manuscript by Toby Hammond.

The English journalist Michael Davidson described a poignant erotic encounter with a boy in Lahore in the newly independent Pakistan in 1949 in his memoir Some Boys.

In The Slave Trade Today (1961), sensationalist journalist Sean O'Callaghan briefly described the then-current prostitution of slave-boys in Bombay.

India and Pakistan in Boys for Sale is Drew and Drake's chapter on the sub-continent in their 1969 study of global boy prostitution, mostly concerned with the enduring scenes.

 

Ceylon

The Tragedy of Sir Hector Macdonald is the story told by Cambridge Professor Ronald Hyam of the downfall of a British general and national hero over Greek love affairs in Ceylon in 1903.

In their Boys for Sale (1969), Drew and Drake had only this to say about boy prostitution in Ceylon:

Ceylon has traditionally been a favorite visiting place for tourists in search of boy prostitutes. Roger Peyrefitte tells in his Exile of Capri how Count Fersen found that certain hotels in Ceylon always had “available” boy employees. Ceylonese boys have made willing servants — sexual and otherwise — of many others since Count Fersen. Their prices have been low and, despite their dark color, many Europeans find them more erotic than the yellow or golden-brown boys further east in Asia.

Ceylonese boys are docile and obedient. They are anxious to please, but not as eagerly erotic as elsewhere. Nor are they as photogenic as boys in some other Asian countries despite their complete willingness to pose for obscene pictures.

Sri Lanka in 1979 is an article from the first issue of Pan magazine describing the Greek love culture there.

Culture clash in Sri Lanka, 1981 is a letter to Pan magazine by a witness to how shocked and mesmerised some foreign tourists were by their first view of local boys offering themselves.