Land of Kamasutra but Lovemaking in Public is Banned, Why?

Khajuraho

Recently Kolkata was rocked by two incidents of indecent public behavior. In the first instance, a couple was beaten by some senior citizens for open indecent behavior and abuses. When Kolkata was boiling over the issue, another man was caught masturbating in a bus. While in the first instance, liberals were furious over one’s freedom of expression in public; in the second instance, the same liberals were furious to beat the man for his misconduct in public. Surprisingly, when Swara Bhaskar did the same on screen, no one wanted to beat her in public or no case registered against her. Other than some vague comment from censor board over the issue nothing else happened.

During these debates, some people raised the point that while India is the land of Kamasutra which is known as the knowledge hub of sexual acts and has open display of extreme sexual carvings in the temples, when India has Naga Sanyasis who roam around naked on streets, then why the same acts in public by common people are not acceptable? Earlier, I discussed the limits to our individual freedom of speech and expression in public by discussing our Constitution. Even law students seemed to be ignorant about these limits. But to understand why the lewd sexual carvings exist in Hindu temples, or why Nagas moving around naked is not an offence; needed understanding of the philosophy behind it. Hence, the discussion here in my Vedic India series.

What is Dharma?

I have met a few gurus to understand the philosophical dilemma presented in the current situation. As gurus say, it is not enough to learn Sanskrit and read Vedas to understand the Vedic Philosophy. One needs to live that life to understand the philosophy. And being in a city, one can’t necessarily learn the philosophy or understand that in its true sense. But still, I will try to explain the best way I can.

Bhaktivedanta Vedabasa explained Dharma as in the following way –

Dharma

The explanation is – “Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Lord Krsna). Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great Riṣhis (Hindu rsis) who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyādharas and Cāraṇas.”

A simpler explanation is, Dharma is not made by any man, it is made by Lord Krsna and it can only be understood with the help of gurus. Dharma is meant to change a man, not the other way round.

Vedic gurus say, since ordinary human beings can’t understand Dharma easily, it is best to follow one’s responsibilities as dharma according to one’s social position and best not try to imitate or follow others’ dharma. In this aspect, Hindu rsis say, even if one is very bad at following one’s dharma and very good at following someone else’s dharma, one should follow one’s own dharma. This should help in maintaining the social order (this is explained in Srimad Bhagavatam).

Hindu Dharma Shastras, explain what is best manava (human) dharma. In this aspect based on one’s position in spiritual journey, everyone has different dharma (duty). For example, vanaprastha dharma is different from sanyasa dharma and both are different from brahmacharya dharma.

Gurus say, that dharma is a set of codes or principles to be followed by humans to help them progress to their position in the spiritual world.

India – The Land of Kamasutra

Now, the question arises, if everything in Vedic culture was driven by dharma, then how could India create the masterpiece of sexual manual – The Kamasutra. And if India was driven by a spiritual culture, then how could they carve out extreme sexual acts (like sex with multiple partners, sex with animals etc.) on temple walls? These seem to be farthest from any spiritual path.

To understand this, we need to first understand the philosophy behind sexual relations and traditional Indian culture. India has seen sex as a way to spiritual advancement. The philosophy behind is that when one is supposed to follow one’s grhasthya dharma, one is supposed to perform one’s duties properly. In this aspect, Kamasutra teaches (consolidates) the sexual acts that can be performed but these were never meant to be what it is thought of today.

If we read Kamasutra, we will find that it talks about preparing the body and soul of both the partners and creating an ambience of positive sexual intercourse even before having sex. In this way, it was never forced on the partner or against the partner’s will. The elaborate preparation mentioned before having sex may seem impractical in today’s bedrooms and that preparation was not any less elaborate than preparing for a puja. In this aspect, Hindus always believed that sex needed to be restricted and the intercourse of a man and a woman is for the divine purpose of serving the god and taking the creation ahead. Moreover, Kamasutra never talks about having sex in public or never sanctioned those acts in public.

We also need to understand the meaning of Kama. This is enjoyment of all senses and does not mean only ‘sex’ as it is popularly percieved today. Since it was considered as a divine responsibility of humans to have sex and to produce children, any abortion and contraception was also considered sinful. In fact, in most religions abortion is considered sinful.

The Nudity in ‘Naga Sanyasis’ and ‘Modern Women’

There is a popular saying that if you try to understand the Vedic philosophy without knowing anything about philosophy in general, then it’s better not to try, unless you attain a certain level of understanding of Hindu Shastras. It is not same as any other subject like Mathematics or Chemistry where simple reading may be enough. Philosophy in general and Vedic Philosophy, in particular, can be understood properly only if one lives that life, apart from reading Shastras under a guru.

Nagas are in an advanced spiritual journey, where they perform extreme renunciation and hardship to attain their spiritual goal. These men covered in ashes and visible only in some religious gatherings (like Kumbh Mela etc.) do not arouse anybody. These Sanyasis are beyond this material world and they are not bound by any material needs, too. That is why they live under extreme hardship to fulfil their spiritual objective. On the other hand, common people (women in particular) trying to roam naked and semi-naked in public, shows their sexuality to attract opposite sex and try to arouse others. They don’t live the life of sacrifice and hardship that Nagas do, and thus their behavior is not spiritual in nature.

It’s also said, that one should follow one’s own dharma (duties) according to one’s position in the spiritual journey. As mentioned earlier, if a Brahmachari (bachelor) tries to imitate grhasthya dharma or Sanyasa dharma both are not acceptable. So, normal people imitating Nagas in certain aspects (and telling that as their right) is definitely not spiritual and is vulgar in nature.

Why Lewd Carvings in Temples

There are many thoughts on this. Some gurus think that in ancient India, people used to get married early in life. They didn’t have any avenue to learn about sexual life and hence it was important to have some common place (like temples) to have the carvings to educate the young couples in sexual matters.

But that seems to not explain the logic behind depiction of extreme sexual forms (like having sex with multiple partners, sex with animals etc.) on the temples.

But this is also explained as gurus say, some temples depict all four human goals; namely धर्म, अर्थ, कामा, मोक्ष  (Dharma or Spirituality, Artha or Finances, Kama or Sex, Moksha or salvation). So, when one visits those temples one would see all four aspects of human life and hence this depiction of sexual forms in the temples.

Some gurus are also of the view that these carvings acted as a filter mechanism to separate devotees based on their spiritual needs. Those who were attracted by the lewd carvings remained outside the temple hooked to those carvings, while only the people interested in spiritual advancement entered the temple. So, the devotees who were really interested in the God remained inside and undisturbed by the non-devotees.

Why Women in Jeans Are Not Allowed in Temples

There are many occasions we have seen public outrage over temple notices that banned women in jeans from entering the temples. Young generation thinks it is unnecessary curtailing of their rights and infringement on their ‘Freedom of expression’ in public.

I have already discussed in another article that our freedom of expression is not unlimited and definitely restricted based on different factors. In this article, I will show the spiritual principle behind such bans. This can be understood by understanding the philosophy described previously why some temples have lewd carving.

Since temples are places of mass worship, temples need to segregate the real devotees from the fake ones. In ancient time, lewd carvings acted as the separator. Anybody who was not interested in spiritual advancement was kept outside and only interested people are allowed in. Similarly, anything that creates a sexual thought in the mind of others (like tight jeans or sexually explicit dresses of women) are not allowed inside a temple. If we see from the ‘individual rights’ perspective, it needs to be seen from the angle of others’ rights to attain spiritual advancement’ (because the temple is a place for everyone’s spiritual advancement) rather than one’s right to wear whatever dress one wears. Similarly, even men have a dress code in temples. I remember, I wanted to enter a local ashram (not temple) in shorts but was not allowed in.

In Vedic terms, temple is a sanctuary where one goes to come out of all material influences (this includes sexual thought etc.). It is the duty of those who visit the temple to maintain sanctity of the place. If they fail to do so and create hindrance in others path to spiritual journey, then it becomes the responsibility of the temple authority to display such orders and prohibit those wrongdoers.

Lewd Carvings Are Not Objectification

It’s also pertinent to mention that the lewd carvings on the temples are not objectification of women as very often feminists claim that.

If we understand now that the depiction of carnal desires of human beings outside the walls of some temples, is the message to the devotees to keep all their material desires outside and enter the temple with a pure sense of devotion. When one enters a temple to offer prayers one should only be pure and in unperturbed mind thinking only about the Lord. This is a clear indication that one can attain spiritual advancement only when one renounces material aspects of life.

This philosophy, however, is applied to both men and women. The carnal depiction of men having sex with animals etc. shows the lustful nature of humans that needed to be overcome in order to progress in life.

Why Lovemaking in Public is Banned

Very often we forget our limits in public behavior and that causes problems like recently Kolkata has witnessed. What was projected as simple hugging and kissing, it was beyond that and was in sexual in nature. The popular public opinion was, how could others  judge the couple’s behavior and just not let them do whatever they wanted?

As explained earlier in public places our behavior can’t be dominated by our ‘rights’ alone. It is governed by others’ rights to have an undisturbed travel as well. The right of the parents to ensure that their children are not dragged into this kind of addiction. Indian law is very clear in this aspect. Our freedom of expression is not absolute and are bound by acceptable social standards and we can’t break them. Because if kissing on the cheek is allowed, then why not on breasts? Why not sucking the breasts openly? Or why not having sex in public?

In the arguments that followed the incidents, many people raised the point about consent of the women in the act while they wanted to thrash the man who was found masturbating in public. Hardly did they understood, that in masturbation one doesn’t need anybody else’s consent, but still that was a crime.

Some people will still argue that in western countries these acts happen in public, so why not in India? Majority of westerners however do not appreciate such type of public behavior and mostly from history we know that this behavior is a symptom of a dying culture. Message to these people is ‘when in Rome, be a Roman’ or else get ready to be punished. Simply because something is happening in western countries, doesn’t make those nations any better and we surely don’t need to follow what other countries are following.

***

[This article is part of Vedic India series.

All articles in this series can be found – Here]

 

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