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Sometimes the gods condemn these interactions but at other times they occur with their blessing.
In addition to stories of gender and sexual variance that are generally accepted by mainstream Hinduism, modern scholars and queer activists have highlighted LGBT themes in lesser-known texts, or inferred them from stories that traditionally are considered to have no homoerotic subtext.
In the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu takes the form of the enchantress, Mohini, in order to trick the demons into giving up Amrita, the elixir of life.
He cites another story to show that only Vishnu has the power to "enchant" Shiva: a demon tries to kill Shiva by taking the form of a woman (placing sharp teeth in "his" vagina).
In the Javanese telling, Srikandi (as she is known) never becomes a man, but is a woman equal to men, and is the wife of Arjuna. When Arjuna refused her amorous advances, the nymph Urvashi cursed Arjuna; he would become a "kliba," a member of the third gender.
Krishna assured Arjuna that this curse would serve as the perfect disguise for Arjuna during his last year of exile.
In this version, Ayyappa is referred to as ayoni jata, "not born from a vagina", and later Hariharaputra, "the son of Vishnu and Shiva", and grows up to be a great hero.
According to Tamil versions of the Mahabharata, the god Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu – also took the form of Mohini and married Aravan.
Changes of sex and cross-dressing also occur in epics about non-divine figures.