Erotic Sculpture

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Erotic Sculptures Video, Jagadambi Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Frequently Asked Questions...

why do indian(Hindu) temples have erotic sculpture?

I don't get it,....why do we have this erotic sculptures,......on da gopura(gopuram),....almost every temple's have them,....why?,....
da stars are;.....E....ROTi...C

Best Answer...


Why the so called objectionable carvings in some mandir ?

A) Much controversy rages over the purpose of these carvings showing males and females in various states.To the casual observer they puzzle. What is the reason of such things in a place of worship?

To the crude they are pornographic. And to the bias they are the vulgar habits of a primitive peoples. Yet they are in fact, opaque symbolic portrayals of the state of 'union' with God. Within the vast confines of Hinduism one encounters many approaches to demonstrating spiritual ideas. Mithuna carvings are just one.

B) Mithuna, in fact means, 'the state of being a couple.'

The Bruhadaranyka Upanishad, 4. iii. 21:

"Just as a man closely embraced by a beloved woman knows nothing more without or within, so also a spiritual person embraced by God knows nothing more of without or within. This is his true form in which his desire (worldly) is satisfied. He has no desire nor any pain."

Thus mithuna is a human symbol of the total involvement in God required for Moksha-ultimate release from the material world of life-death cycles. Moksha is attained by approaching the Lord in a mandir where such carvings constantly remind him of his true goal in life; the attainment of pure divine bliss by being totally engrossed in the Lord.

C) The mithuna symbols also express a series of particular philosophic beliefs concerning the creation of man and wife and the whole of creation. In the beginning was Purusha (an aspect of God).

Bruhadaranyaka Upanishad, 1. iv. 1-4:

"like a man and a woman in close embrace (one, and introverted enjoying the bliss of spiritual being). It desired a second. Himself the Purusha divided into two. So were born man and wife. He united himself to her."

The scriptures command that such carvings should only be presented on the walls of mandirs and not on the houses of men. This is because men (and women) indulge in mithuna to satisfy sexual desires, ignoring the true purpose of life, Moksha - or final release.

D) Sex is the most enjoyable relationship. The goal of sex is the realization of the sacredness of love.

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The joy of human sexual union raised to the nth degree is regarded as attainment of union with divine.
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Since sexual union is the affirmation of the ideal relationship between human and divine, physical enjoyment is the concrete form of the spiritual enjoyment. Sringara (sexual enjoyment) is the aesthetic experience of the basic emotion of love. The ineffable ecstacy of the union of man and woman finds expression in terms of sexual experience. The mithuna sculpture on the temples is an expression of this ideal.

The body is the physical manifestation of the inner life. Mithuna sculpture on temples is, therefore, an outer manifestation of man's inward aesthetic pleasure. There are sixty four arts of love-making as enunciated by Vatsayana in Kama Sutra. These arts are essential for fulfilling three aims of life, viz., Kama, Artha and Dharma.

The art of love and sex is an important branch of human knowledge. Sexual enjoyment constitutes fulfillment of Dharma. Human love is analogous to spiritual passion. The sexual embrace of man and woman gives the same pleasure what mystical experience of the soul gives in the embrace of God.

Mithuna sculpture, an expression in stone of the love play is therefore not profane but a glory of human achievement.

E) Several theories, as to the origin and significance of these aspects of mandir sculpture, prevail among Indian as well as Western scholars.

Francis Leeson in Kama Shilpa has summarized them briefly as follows :

(1) The mithunas are symbols of Shakti - both - sexes in one God - representing the oneness of God, or the spiritual syllable AUM.

(2) They are representations of supreme bliss, an attempt in earthly terms to convey the meaning of heavenly rapture.

(3) The mithunas are temptations to laud thoughts, but are to be overcome by the devout.

(4) They are just innocent depictions of a human activity in the same way as other sculptures show scenes of dancing, fighting, making music, praying, etc.

(5) The mithunas were intended as a protection against the evil eye, 'lightening" etc.

(6) They attract grosser-minded people to come to the mandir, if only for the initial pleasure of examining them.

(7) The mithunas are there for the sexual education of the young and ignorant, as a sort of illustrated Kama Sutra.

(8) They are straight forward representations of Yogic postures.

Having taken into account the various theories about the significance of representations of these postures in mandirs, and examined them in light of the canons prescribed in the Shilpa works, Dr. B.J. Sandesara has justified their place in mandir sculpture as illustrating Kama which is one among the four purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama) leading to moksha.

The mithunas are not to be seen as vulgar sculptures then.
Straight and crooked are within the person!

F) Reference, Book:

The Art of Khajuraho
By R. Nath
Published by Abhinav Publications, 1980
ISBN 0836406087, 9780836406085
Total Pages 181

Various quotes on the purpose and need for mithunas are mentioned in the pages 126-128 in 'The Art of Khajuraho'.

Natya Sastra of Bharata, 2. 88-89
Brahat Samhita of Vrahamihira, 55. 14-15
Agni Purana, 104. 29-30
Matsya Purana, 260.11-12
Sukra Niti Sara, 4.4. Slokas 76, 78, 106 and 107
Samarangana Sutradhara (a North Indian Vatsu text), 8.43 and 30.134