Why Erotic Temples of Khajuraho


The Temple of LOVE

The Khajuraho temples are one of the seven wonders of India and A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres southeast of New Delhi, are one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture.

here are many theories explaining the real reason for incorporating erotic art with the temples. One of the most popular theories is that they were meant to provide education about earthly desires. During the medieval era, young boys were sent to hermitage and practice bramhacharya till reaching maturity. The sculptures were meant to educate them about grahasthahram.

Other theory and I guess most correct theory to protect their culture for new generation, as that time they have not many ways to secure information. So they have carved those into walls. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities: They show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian when the carvings were made and activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk . The images of Goddesses and Gods sculpted on the temple walls represent the many manifestations of the divine Shakti and Shiva, the female and male principles, the Yin and the Yang.

Yet another theory states that they were meant to represent kama (desire) as the third purushartha (aim of life). The sculptures are also accredited to the rise of the Tantric cults during that time. However, several experts reject these theories.

However, the most credible explanations for the erotic sculptures at Khajuraho are as follows:

1. Sign of happiness, prosperity and auspiciousness: During the medieval era there was a common belief that having erotic sculptures were considered alankaras or decorative motifs, protective and auspicious. This hypothesis is based on the authoritative religious texts like the Shilpashastras and the Brihat Samhita. According to the Brihat Samhita, mithunas (couples), goblins, creepers and erotic sculptures were meant to be carved on the temple door to bring in good luck and as a sign of auspiciousness.

2. Mock the Ascetics: Yet another theory explaining the old erotic art at Khajuraho states that the coital couples represent ascetics as well as people from the royal class. It is also believed that the sculptures of couples participating in the orgies are scenes imagined by the artists. Also, it is also said that the artists used ascetics in sensuous and passionate moods as a way to mock the extreme Tantric sects that rose during that era.

3. Code Language: According to experts, the erotic figures were used as a code language to convey Tantric doctrines and non-communicable experiences. For e.g. A sculpture wherein a washerwoman clings to an ascetic may look erotic and sensuous for the layman. However, in the Tantric language, the washerwoman represents the Kundalini energy that has ascended up to the chakras i.e. the neck of the ascetic. Thus, the erotic sculptures have a deeper meaning related to the Tantric cult.

4. Conceal the Magico-Propitiory Yantra: According to the architectural text of the Shilpa Prakasha, every temple must have a Kamakala Yantra strategically placed to protect it from evil spirits and natural calamities. However, the Yantra, which is basically a set of lines drawn symmetrically, must not be visible to the lay man. Thus, a few erotic sculptures with the head down posture were made corresponding to the lines of the Yantra and superimposed on it.

5. Non-duality: It is possible that the erotic sculptures symbolically represent the union of two opposing forces or energies like, inhalation and exhalation, in a timeless state of non-duality.

The erotic art at Khajuraho is considered to be the pinnacle of love and passion. However, during the period between 900 – 1300 AD most Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples across western and southern India comprised of erotic art.

However, at other temples, these sculptures were carved at the plinth level, below the eye level and thus did not get noticed. It is only at Khajuraho that these sculptures were so prominently displayed on the main wall of the temples.


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