Khajuraho: the temples of love


It is said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, thus the same aspect can be seen differently by different people. The scenes filled with eroticism that can be found on the walls of the temples of Khajuraho are such an “aspect” that could be the source of ecstatic states filled with mystery and for others, it can represent an inexplicable phenomenon. They represent couples in various erotic postures and they emanate a state of holiness that seems to be coming from another world.

Situated in the center of India, in a small town named Khajuraho, the renowned “temples of love”, an expression of an ancient civilization, have turned this place in a major tourist attraction of this country. The temples of Khajuraho have been built between the years 950 and 1050 AD, during the Chandel dynasty and they were considered the climax of the Indian architecture in that period of time. In the beginning, there was a number of 85 temples that were built, out of which only approximately 22 are still standing to this day. For many years, these temples were left abandoned and they were only rediscovered in the twentieth century.

There are three types of temples, belonging to different cultures: the temples in the West, consecrated to the gods Shiva and Vishnu, the temples belonging to the Vaishnava culture, in the North and the Jainist temples in the South. We must not overlook the fact that the sculptures and statues cover every part of the ceiling and the walls in these temples. The atmosphere they create is overwhelming.

Considered to be the oldest of them all, Chaunsat Yoghini is part of the western temples and it is consecrated to the goddess Kali. Kandariya Mahadeo is the greatest temple, being consecrated to the god Shiva and there are over 900 statuettes that can be admired here. Another well-preserved temple, consecrated to the god of sun, Surya, is the temple of Chitragupta. A few of the eastern temples are Parsavanatha, Ghantai, Adhinata and the three Hindu temples: Brahma, Vaamana and Javari. Duladeo, Chaturbhuk are temples belonging to the southern group.

The predominant theme of the mural sculptures in these temples is the worshiping of the woman and its thousand aspects. But the sculptures we can see here are also consisting of representations of animals in the Indian mythology, dancers and musicians, varied deities, couples in various erotic postures. Some of the statuettes in these temples are approximately one meter high and they are representations of the gods Shiva and Shakti, the masculine and feminine principles, yang and yin.

The erotic scenes are still the more obvious ones, since they are characteristic to tantrism. The tantric philosophy includes the whole universe and all its levels of manifestation, it denies nothing in existence and it gives special importance to astrology, biology, anatomy and even sexuality. The act of lovemaking, considered to be essentially a unification of the masculine and feminine cosmic principles, takes an extremely important place in some of the tantric techniques and procedures.

Tantra Yoga bases its spiritual evolution techniques on the mastering of sexual energy, which is sublimated in psycho-mental and spiritual energy. Tantra states that the state of wisdom and spiritual liberation can occur through the direct experience of the sense under the lucid control of the practitioner. The traditional treaty “Kularnava Tantra” states that “nobody” will ever be able to attain spiritual perfection by making use of difficult and boring techniques, because perfection can easily be attained by using the very satisfaction of all our senses.”

Another traditional text, “Mahanirvana tantra”, says that: “on the path of Tantra, the possibility of frantically living the worldly pleasures and obtaining a state of wisdom as well as gaining the paranormal abilities it spontaneously gives are both existing simultaneously.” A central aspect of the tantric practice and philosophy is transfiguration. In a tantric couple, the two lovers must see behind the concrete presence of the beloved the fascinating mystery of the Feminine or Masculine principle, Shakti or Shiva, and these statuettes are symbols of these two principles.

The essence of tantric love is the sacredness of the act of lovemaking taking place between a man and a woman. Tantra is rather unknown in the Western world, in spite of its reputation, most people are mistakenly believing that its target is the exacerbation of the sexual impulses, which is completely false. The transfiguring tantric eroticism grants the two lovers the possibility of reaching hundreds of ecstatic orgasms without energetic discharge. The fulminating point is, beyond erotic pleasure, the feeling of bliss, of ecstasy.

In today’s sex-crazed world, people have forgotten that the purpose of erotic union is the communion with God, that eroticism is a means of evolution and that satisfying one’s erotic desires is not the purpose here. This is why, for some people, the erotic scenes that can be found on the walls of temples are impossible to understand.

Reminiscent of an ancient tantric culture, these “temples of love” are the only living proof of the spirituality-sexuality conciliation. But they remain an enigma for some, and for others they represent an incentive to discover the beauty and spirituality of eroticism accompanied by endless love.


April 2015

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