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Why did Ancient Hindu Temples have Sex Sculptures?

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 the exact reason for sex sculptures in Hindu temples. And the notion of Hindu sex temples is wrong. A Classic example is Khajuraho were only 20% of the sculptures are sex sculptures that too they are depicted along with other aspects life.

The answer to question "Why did Ancient Hindu Temples have Sex Sculptures?" is very simple. The outside of a temple represents different aspects of life. Each of these aspects are beautiful and essential. All these beautiful aspects complete life. Just imagine what would be life without sex. There will be no regeneration. Sex is just one among the beautiful and important aspect of life. Outside of a Hindu temple reminds a devotee about the various aspects of life. Deep inside this beautiful life resides God.

The most important difference from today and ancient Hindu world is that sex was not separated from mainstream life. Erotic and spiritual had equal importance - they complimented each other - desires and pleasure gave meaning to life just like liberation and self realization. This is the reason why an ascetic wrote Kokashastra (Kamasutra).

A person during the lifetime has to taste all aspects of life this includes love, sex, attraction, infatuation, passion, perversion, aversion...Only a person who has tasted all aspects of life can properly understand God. If one aspect of life is not tasted it will keep on lingering in mind. This will cause a problem in understanding the Supreme Truth. 

Kama (materialistic living which includes sex) is one among the four paths suggested in Hinduism to merge with Brahman or to escape from rebirth (Moksha). Many scholars think these sculptures were meant to explain the ‘Kama’ aspect to people. When sex is for reproduction it is Dharma; when it is for pleasure it is Kama; when sex is brought it is artha; when it is used to attain Siddhi as in Tantra it becomes part of Moksha.

A closer study of Hinduism will reveal that sex was never a taboo during the ancient period. Some believe they were meant for sex education and there is nothing unnatural for temples to have them. In fact, the sex sculptures are all seen outside the Hindu temple along with other sculptures depicting materialistic way of life.

Hindu view of life does not negate any aspect of life. Sex is an important aspect of life. When it is natural there is no perversion and violence.

What we see today around the world is violence in the name of sex. It is because sex is repressed. It is something that has become a rare commodity. People have been taught it is a taboo. But everyone wants to enjoy sexual pleasure. 

Only a culture that sees sex as something natural just like eating, drinking, breathing can survive.

Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveler and scholar, who visited India during the fourteenth century, discusses about the sex sculptors in the temple. Women were free – they were not kept under veil – and they had sexual freedom. Men were conscious about the need to keep their women sexually happy. It is said that Devadasis, who stayed in temples, gave sex lessons to both men and women. 

Buddhism had completely devoured Hinduism during the initial phase of 1st millennium. But soon the rigid Buddhist way of life began to create problems in the society. It is said that Hindu sages saw this as an opportunity to revive Hinduism. To invite people into family and sex life these sculptures were created.

The ancient Hindu kings of India were noted for their extravagance. Some scholars believe the sculptures were part of this luxury.

All the above given explanations are mere inferences there is no proper written record in Hinduism as why ancient Hindu temples had sex sculptures.

Perhaps the answer to why sex sculptors, can be found in the current state of sex education.

Modern Hindu temples built around the world do not contain sex sculptures – because sex is a taboo. However, sex related problems are on the rise all around the world. And we all are eager to know about sex. Ancient world did not have sex related problems, as it was a more open society – where sex was openly discussed. Today, it is impossible for a person to get good sex lessons. You end up getting all kinds of wrong information – this is the reason why there is an increase of sex related violence. Ancient Hindu temples gave a very important lesson to people by having sex sculptors on walls. It was for both male and female to understand sex properly – not just the act but also emotion attached with it. When something is readily available, there is no problem. But when we make something a rare commodity then there is a whole lot of problem.

These sculptures prove one thing categorically that ancient Hindu society was highly civilized and they had the maturity to see sex as one among the numerous aspects of life. It is the mindset that matters.