Temples of Hindu have been often denoted as Replicas of Cosmology of Universe. Once Vivekananda said “Unless you are spiritually mature enough, don’t read Raslila, because you are going to mis-read & mis-understand it”. It has been stated that the architecture and the sculptures of a temple not only defines about the cosmology of the universe but explicitly portrays sensual & material pleasures on their walls. It conveys do not get distracted by worldly temptations and should move forward single minded towards the Lord and Almighty.
Konark, Lingaraj, Khajuraho, Ellora, Markandeswar, Udaipur Jagadish Mandir, Hampi, etc have erotic sculptures in stone. The temples of Khajuraho built between 900-1130AD are a collection of 84 temples (Now only 34 exists). Town of Khajuraho was the spiritual capital of the Chandela dynasty. Khajuraho temples feature a variety of artwork, of which only 10% is sexual or erotic artwork outside of temple, on Walls, Pillars, Gopuram and Shikhara. Sculptures artwork cover numerous aspect of human life cycle from birth to death. These life cycles include Dharma, Artha, Kaam and Moksha as four duties which a human is required to fulfill in his lifetime. Dharma has duties, education, war, managing Kingdom etc. Artha is economic activities like agriculture, trade, travel, etc. Kaam is sex. Moksha is path of spirituality & life after death. Hinduism has considered sex as an essential part of life. These sculptures have all aspects of ancient lifestyle, sociology and human settlement. Erotic sculptures are just part of these depictions.
Such erotic sculptures you will never find inside the temple on inside-walls or Garbhagrih. Hindu writings say that it is the indication of the god saying “Do leave your materialistic and sexual carvings outside the temple and enter into my sanctum place inside the temple with pure heart”.
Sex awareness played a big part in the education system back in ancient time. So these erotic sculptures on the temples walls were one of the source for sex education. India was open about sex education back in 10th Century only. Kamashastra was written by Vatsyayan Mallanaga at that time, and sex was not considered as taboo. Most of our sexual conservatism came from the Islamic Invasions like Parda Pratha & Johar (Distorted as Sati) and the British colonial experiences. Indians have always been very open about sex. Almost every culture invaded by the Islam, later on stopped doing the nudity in art and instead approached the art without nudity. Prior to that, most of the liberal cultures from Europe had the nudity in the art. India considered being one of the most conservative countries in the world (believe it or not) was extremely liberal and open about the concept of sex even before the 12th century. Sex was even taught as a formal subject as a part of education with pictorial representations of Kamasutra. The Kama Sutra was written in ancient Sanskrit in India, dated to 400 BCE–200 CE. The country which produced Kama Sutra was not lagging behind in giving sex education to the adolescents. In Gurukuls, Kamasastra was taught along with Dharma sutras and ArthaSastra. Things changed after foreign invasions and sex was looked down upon or considered a sin. So modern temples have no erotic sculptures.
Girls before they were married off, either a close relative or a childhood nurse taught them. Princess Aanya was taught by her nurse, who took her to the temple. On seeing the sculptures, the princess felt like getting some man to her chamber. Almost next, Aanya entered the temple with a wavering mind and on seeing the deity, she got completely calmed down.
It is a MISCONCEPTION that Khajuraho temples depict sex between deities. Sexual themes in temples are not of any deities but related to ordinary humans & their life style in those era. In Khajuraho Temples, the idols of Shiva, Nandi, Goddess Durga, Incarnations of Vishnu etc. are fully clothed. All over India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari deities have been shown in Temples as described in the Shastras. None of the temples have idols of Deities been shown nude or in sexual positions. One temple has deity in delivery position but it has its torso only and no face.
Western media – “Khajuraho=Eroticism” in the viewer’s minds. In western culture, sex is an entity to make money & do business. Pornography has actually nurtured and facilitated the internet are a work of western culture. Hence, when western wrote about our temples & culture, they view it as “Khajuraho = Eroticism” in their mind. Hence, selling such stories demean India and what actually Islamic world love to hear. Indian temples used to be the very grand constructions of great kings who used to spend money on temples displaying their religious devotion to god. These sculptures mainly depict the lives of humans/ lifestyle of those generations.
- DHARMA – Ethical Living, Social & Environmental Responsibilities and Obligations (useful and ethical means of livelihood)
- ARTHA — Financial Security
- KAMA — Sex/Pleasure/Sensuality/Aesthetics/Friendships and a good social life filled with pleasant diversions and entertainments.
- MOKSHA — Emancipation, Enlightenment and Liberation from oneself
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