My thoughts on Khajuraho
Lost in a small village in Madhya Pradesh are a series of 20 temples profusely carved, gigantic and dominating the otherwise insignificant countryside.
And we seem to have moralistic problems with it!!
Our society is known for its hypocrisy. The world's largest demo'crazy' boasting of the maximum population on this earth ironically blames Khajuraho for its erotic sculptures! Where did our babies come from?
The strange thing is these sculptures that Khajuraho is apparently so famous for are found in most of other Indian temples as well, we just didn't bother to look. Even stranger is the fact that we need to hunt them down in the jungle of profusely carved stone to spot them out and tell everyone, I went to Khajuraho!
So, the average tourist goes to Khajuraho, not with beauty or spiritualism in his/her mind to appreciate the grandeur of 20 temples along the landscape but to hunt down minute erotic sculptures... how perverted are they?
Is Khajuraho really x-rated as people claim it to be? Are we even trying to find out why they are there in the first place and appreciate our ancient society for it?
The truth behind erotica as researched by Art Historian Devangana Desai is this. India was known to have very learned men who knew more than one science. They were Tantriks. They knew the science of astrology, architecture and ritual. They advised kings over the construction of these great temples all over the subcontinent, but primarily around northeast India where they flourished the most. They are also known to have practiced ritual rather indigestible to think of today.
Being initiated into Tantricism is/was not the simplest thing. One needed a guru for the initiation and there after ritual practice/sadhana is/was a must. This sadhana involved a change of lifestyle which meant it was not just about how to worship and faith but also about how to live - eat, conduct yourself, practice the art of love making etc, everything offered to the Gods in complete surrender. Ritual went deep down into understanding of mystical diagrams and worship of powers unknown to us like those of the Mother Goddess, Lord Shiva, the yoginis etc. Everything is very interconnected, the ritual practices might have ceased to exist but the science continues to live.
So when one approaches these extremely lavish Tantrik temples, one needs to be initiated to even understand them. The moralistically infamous temples hide deeper secrets of faith within diagrams of ritual, potent in power but rather simple to look at - delightful erotica to the uninitiated i.e. you and me. These erotic sculptures are very geometric, fit within a square with imaginary lines meeting at strategic points which house powers to protect these temples from evil forces unknown to you and me.
The result - erotica, because that is what we see and we don't have the patience to find out more. Take trouble, dig for information and understand the subtlety of Hinduism before giving judgment. Hinduism runs deeper than erotica, and the people then didn't pull up temples to quench our thirst for erotica.