Spiritual leader Ravi Shankar on Monday said being homosexual or heterosexual is a tendency that may change. He made the statement at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi after a student asked how he should handle the way his friends and family “mistreat” him because he was homosexual.

“You treat yourself better, doesn’t matter how others treat you. You don’t think you are sick or something is wrong with you,” he said. “If you stand up, nobody can insult you, but...if you feel bad about yourself, nobody can make you feel better,” he told the student. “This is your tendency now...just acknowledge it, accept it, and know that this tendency is not a permanent thing. It may change. I’ve seen many men who were gay later turn into heterosexuals, and there are those who are normal, who are called straight people, end up being gay later in life. I would like you to focus beyond the body identity.”

Ravi Shankar was at JNU to deliver the 13th Nehru Memorial Lecture.

When another student asked him what they could do to shed the “anti-national” tag they had “because of a few students”, he said: “Some youths have a tendency to rebel. Just because they’re talking differently, don’t think they’re anti-national. Don’t brand them.”

Ravi Shankar had said on Monday that he will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on November 16 and meet Chief Minister Adityanath as a “courtesy call”. He tried to clarify that he was not visiting the city with an agenda but was hopeful there would be an “out of court settlement” of the Ayodhya dispute.


Corrections and clarifications: This headline has been changed based on exact quotes from Ravi Shankar’s speech.