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  • Category: Hinduism

    Why did ancient Hindu temples have sex or erotic sculptures?


    Ever thought why ancient Hindu temples have erotic sculptures? On this Ask Expert page you will find responses to your queries.

    If you go through the ancient Hindu temples in India, you will found many erotic and sex sculptures around the temple walls. Some of the UNESCO World Heritage temples in India like Konark, Lingaraj, Khajuraho, Ellora, Markandeswar, Udaipur Jagadish Mandir, Hampi, etc have to erotic carvings in stone. Since my childhood, I've few doubts in my mind why such sexual images created in holy places. Do you think ancient architects prefer sex as a symbol of sanctity?
    Experts: do clarify this.
  • #138793

    There are various concepts of understanding this issue and different group of people like general devotees, Hindu preachers, priests perceive the erotic sculptures on the temples differently. Despite whatever may be the reason for sculpting erotic pictures of the temples, they proved to be the perfect canvas for artists and thus encouraging this art.

    The major reasons that I know are:
    • These sculptures can only be seen outside the temple but not inside the core area in where the god is sculpted. Hindu writings say that it is the indication of the god saying that "Do leave your materialistic and sexual carvings outside the temple and enter into my sanctum place inside the temple with pure heart that needs only my blessings without any other intentions".
    • Temples are the most visited ones by everyone. In the ancient world, sex education is a taboo. So these erotic sculptures on the temples were one of the source for sex education and sculpting them on the temple strongly depicts that this sexual activity is important for our humankind to regenerate and to have kids so to form generations of mankind on earth.
    In this way erotic sculptures on the temples helped mankind to educate themselves and showed the art of human survival.


    Regards,
    Venkat Satish Mamidisetti,
    Power Plant Operations Engineer.

  • #138800
    Although I am not an expert in ancient Hindu philosophy or literature, I am attempting to express my views in this regard:-

    (a) You are mistaken that sculptures with erotic messages are curved in temples. It is not correct. The Ellora and Ajanta are caves, not temples. Similarly Khajuraho is not temple of Gods and Goddesses. There is no erotic sculpture in Konark. I feel that only outside the temple(s) of Kamdeva and/or Rati (who are Sex God/Goddess), such erotic sculptures can be seen.
    (b) Even if there are sculptures near temples, these are outside the temple, more precisely not near the 'sanctum sanctorum'.
    (c) Such sculptures prove that the subject of sex was not a taboo among ancient Indians/Hindus.

    Caution: Explosive. Handle with care.

  • #138814
    Nudity in cultural sculptures and painting were portrayal of the art. And it was meant for the artist to show the liberal nature of the culture. Almost every culture invaded by the mughals later 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. And the sign of the liberal culture always goes to show how open they were from the concept of art. However some cultures and religions consider nudity as a bad sign of the society and this ends up judging the entire religion. Though Hinduism adapted to both liberal and conservative values. It all comes down to how you view the cultural art form your perspective.

  • #138854
    Hindu religion is based on four pillars that is Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Ancient Hindu religion was at its peak at that time and there was a proper balance among all four. All four pillars were given equal importance in every sphere of life. Maharaja Janak was given the status of 'Rishi' in spite of his total devotion to Grihasthashram. . Kaam Shastra was written by Vatsyayan at that time and sex was not considered as taboo. After the invasion of foreigners especially Muslims, this balance got disturbed.
    Temples, those days were considered as a place where all four pillars were given equal importance symbolically. There used to be different idols of different Devi/Devatas, which was the symbol of Dharma. There used to be lot of gold, diamonds and various ratnas to show the importance of Artha in our life. Many foreigner invaders came to India and looted the huge wealth stored in our temples. There used to be erotic sculptures to show the equal importance of Kama. Moksha was believed to be achieved if any one follows all previous pillars strictly as per guidelines.
    Just to show the importance of Kama and its sacredness, erotic sculptures were displayed in temples so that there should be no confusion in the minds of general public regarding Kama.

  • #138872
    For this query we can find various reasons one small reason is that Hindu religion is one of the largest religion which is followed by many across globe and has connection for relating to early inception of humans and civilisation on earth. Temples of Hindu have been often denoted as the replicas of the cosmology of the universe. As per the spiritual and religious manuscripts and Vedas 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, which conveys the point that we do not have to get distracted by these temptations and should move forward single minded towards the Lord and Almighty.

  • #139500
    Hindu religion is based on 4 things. They are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. There are 6 ripus(evil things) in our mind. They are kama, krodha, lova, moha, moda and matsarya. There was proper balance among all the 4 things in Hindu purans.

    We should away from 6 ripus but they are the part of our life.
    One of the main ripus is kama. The sculptures also teaches us we should control our mind.

  • #140451
    TThis response is marked as DELETED by the admin.

    Sex symbols have been associated with Hinduism from an early stage. These symbols were mainly part of nature worship. There is difference of opinion regarding exact reason for sex sculptures in Hindu temples and the notion of Hindu sex temples is wrong. A classic example is Khajuraho where only 20% of the sculptures are sex sculptures which are depicted along with other life aspects.
    Kama (materialistic living which includes sex) is one among four paths suggested in Hinduism to merge with Brahman or to escape from rebirth (Moksha). Many scholars think that these sculptures were meant to explain the 'Kama' aspect to people.
    A closer study of Hinduism will reveal that sex was never a taboo during ancient period. Some believe that they were meant for sex education and there is nothing unnatural for temples to have them. Sex sculptures are all seen outside Hindu temple along with other sculptures depicting materialistic way of life.
    Buddhism had completely devoured Hinduism during initial phase of the first millennium. But, soon the rigid Buddhism way of life began to create problems in the society. It is said that Hindu sages saw this as an opportunity to retrieve Hinduism. To invite people into family and sex life, these sculptures were created.
    Ancient Hindu kings were noted for their extravagance. Some scholars believe that the sculptures were part of this luxury.


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